Earlier this week, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that an evangelical Christian football coach in Bremerton, Wash. had the right to pray on the field after games. So what if the coach had been Muslim or Jewish, instead? That’s what the social-media influencer and former pro basketball player Rex Chapman asked, in a tweet that went crazy-viral right after the decision was handed down. The blogosphere lit up with predictably polarized responses: liberals said a Muslim prayer would never be allowed, and conservatives insisted that it would. I’m not sure, myself. But here’s what I do know: We need a non-Christian to test these waters, as soon as possible, so we find out what each side of the prayer battle truly believes.
Start with conservatives, who said they were shocked — shocked! — that anyone would question their commitment to religious freedom for all worshipers, Muslims included. “So, wait — do these people actually think Sam Alito and Amy Coney Barrett would hate the idea of Muslim coaches praying on their own after a football game?” asked Washington Examiner columnist Timothy P. Carney.
He’s right, about the conservative judges. Indeed, Justice Neil Gorsuch’s majority opinion, which Alito and Barrett joined, worried that if the Bremerton football coach was barred from praying, “a school could fire a Muslim teacher for wearing a headscarf.” I’m confident that these judges would uphold the right of that same teacher to roll out a prayer rug on the 50-yard-line and bow to Mecca after the game.
But it’s reasonable to ask how many other Republicans would. Remember, this is the same party that sponsored 120 bills in 42 state legislatures aimed at preventing the entirely invented threat of Islamic Sharia law. It’s the same party that led efforts to block the construction or expansion of mosques in over 50 different instances.
Republicans have pressed school boards to alter history textbooks that supposedly whitewash jihad — that is, Islamic religious war — and make students “susceptible to becoming terrorists,” as activists in Florida charged in 2011.