Freedom of speech is one of the most important rights that we as Americans have. In the United States, the First Amendment guarantees free speech, though the United States, places limits on this freedom. In a series of landmark cases, the U.S. Supreme Court has helped to define what types of speech are—and aren’t—protected under U.S. law. According to The New York Times, CNN and USA Today the Westboro Baptist Church has been protesting military funerals for many years. The Church has gained national attention from the press because many of these views are considered to be very extreme and hate related. The Westboro Baptist Church is recognized as one of the most well known hate groups in the world. Its primary message is that God hates the United States and is punishing the country for its acceptance of homosexuality. The Church chooses to protest the funerals of fallen soldiers to make the point that in their opinion soldiers are dying as part of God’s punishment for this country’s sins.
Do you think the 1st Amendment should protect the Westboro Baptist Church or should it be an exception and not allow the church to protest veterans funerals? I believe that the 1st amendment should protect the Westboro Baptist Church because if the court did rule against the church it would go against the first amendment directly. Since the protesters were protesting legally they can say whatever they want as long as it is within the law. That may seem harsh but, in reality the funeral attendees were never actually close enough to even see the protests, The father of Marine Lance Corporal Matthew Snyder said in a statement from CNN that, as he passed the protest he only saw the tops of the Westboro Baptist Church’s signs. However, he was exposed to the signs and to the Church’s message when he saw the protest covered by the evening news; and later when he searched online to see what they had to say about his son. In conclusion I am with the law and the 1st Amendment that everything the Westboro Baptist Church had done is legal and is not punishable by the law. Although I do not agree with what the church did I think it was very disrespectful of the family and of America itself to protest at a funeral and say those horrible things.
- Funeral Protests: Selected Federal Laws and Constitutional IssuesKathleen Ann Ruane Legislative Attorney March 22, 2011Anon
Fas.org. N. p., 2018. Web. 14 Feb. 2018.
“Westboro Baptist Church.” Huffingtonpost.com. N. p., 2018. Web. 14 Feb. 2018.
Huffpost has an entire section devoted to the westboro baptist church and is constantly updating it with recent news.
Breaking News, Analysis, Politics, Blogs, News Photos, Video, Tech Reviews – TIME.com
“Breaking News, Analysis, Politics, Blogs, News Photos, Video, Tech Reviews – TIME.Com.” TIME.com. N. p., 2011. Web. 14 Feb. 2018.
Essential Question: Should teams be allowed to pray together before games?
There has been a lot of controversy over the topic of the Freedom of Religion within the First Amendment. Many are at war over whether teams should be allowed to pray before games or not. The problem sparked at Santa Fe High School around 1995 and was reassessed in 2015 and 2016 after a few more sport incidents. The First Amendment may protect individual’s rights to freedom religion but when it comes to teams praying on a public school property, it is not protected. This is because the government is not allowed to promote religion in any way. How does this relate to a school sporting event you might ask. Public schools are owned by the government. If a public school were to teach about prayer, or allow teams to pray together before events, they could get in serious trouble because one may see this as promoting religion. Individuals may take a moment of silence but they must practice their religion to themselves so they do not violate others rights. Some may take The government regulates this closely so that no schools is deemed favored over another. There have been several cases of this and no school has won due to the fact that the First Amendment does not protect them on this matter.
Some may believe that this violates their Freedom of Exercise but it does not. They are not banning you from your religious practices as an individual but they are protecting the rights of others and the laws that they have to follow. If other’s rights are being violated then it can lead to serious conflicts between families of the school and would have to involve members of the school board. If word got out of conflicts like this, it could hurt the school’s reputation or would cause even more arguments from people not involved in the situation. For these many reasons, school athletic teams are not allowed to pray before games.
Membership, ALCU. “Your Right to Religious Freedom.” American Civil Liberties Union, 2018, http://www.aclu.org/other/your-right-religious-freedom.
Carlson, Mr. David. “Establishment Clause.” LII / Legal Information Institute, 10 June 2009, http://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/establishment_clause.
Ash, Elliott T. “Free Exercise Clause.” LII / Legal Information Institute, 4 May 2010, http://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/free_exercise_clause.
Green, Lee. “Prayer, Religion-Related Activities at School Athletics Events.” NFHS, 13 Apr. 2016, http://www.nfhs.org/articles/prayer-religion-related-activities-at-school-athletics-events/.
Each day millions of parents send their children to schools where teachers are ignorant, or disobedient, to the restrictions of what and how they can teach in the classroom. Topics such as religion, politics, and other controversial issues are being portrayed unequally, infringing upon student’s right to a fair view on the world around them.
Students have a wide range of religious freedom protected by the First Amendment in the classroom, such as forming religious based groups, praying in the classroom if not distracting, and incorporating their beliefs into school assignments. But, teachers have many more restrictions than students. In public school, teachers and school districts are required by the First Amendment to neither promote nor inhibit religion. Fairness is demonstrated when the curriculum includes academic study about religion when the content is tied to academic objectives to ensure a rounded education. Although court systems are not black and white, and many cases fall in a gray area, teachers should be educated on their overall limitations.
Because classrooms are not considered public forums, teachers must work within school limitations in their approach to sensitive topics, careful not to take sides on political controversies. Unfortunately this has not been the case especially during the recent election. The Washington Post published an article from October 14th, 2016 glorifying “Teachers of the Year” who are publicly going against their obligation to remain neutral involving political topics in the classroom. Instead of being punished for their violation of what teachers can and cannot do inside the classroom, their “moral imperative” to spread their opinions to their students was praised. Classrooms in my own school have shown evident bias towards political candidates, and teachers have encouraged students with the same views to act disrespectfully towards opinions of opposite views. If a small school in Wisconsin has such a large divide and lack of respectful discussion for students with a range of diverse beliefs, what other inequities are taking place nationwide, and what will we do about it?