As promised, here's Weblog's roundup of commentary over the Supreme Court's 6-3 decision (PDF | HTML) to allow the Good News Club of Milford, New York, to use public school buildings.
The New York Times saw the "otherworldly" decision as a stunning about-face: "Barely a year after its proud decision refusing to allow organized student-led prayers before public high school football games, the Supreme Court lurched alarmingly in the opposite direction."
But others, including The Boston Globe, remind readers that the First Amendment has always been about a balancing act: "Read in full, the Establishment Clause creates a nice balance that mandates church-state separation while avoiding repression of religious speech or other free speech. … Vigilance against breaches of church-state separation does not require banning a religious meeting from an otherwise-empty school hall."
In fact, says the Times Union of Albany, New York, "Who can, and who can't, use the facilities of the Milford Central School District, is actually more of a freedom-of-speech issue than a freedom-of-religion issue. … Prior Supreme Court rulings have applied the same right of free speech to religious groups at public high schools and colleges. It now logically applies as well to elementary schools." The Times Union especially criticizes the dissent of Justice John Paul Stevens, who wanted to distinguish between religious speech that discusses ideas and religious speech that seeks to "promote the gospel."
The argument as also made by Justice David Souter, whom the San Francisco Chronicle says "rightly suggested there should be a distinction between allowing religion-oriented discussions ...1
Already a CT subscriber? Log in for full digital access.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 60+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more