As we have noted several times before, American Family Radio’s Bryan Fischer regularly promotes an entirely incoherent theory about the First Amendment, insisting that its prohibition against an establishment of religion only applies to Congress while also insisting that its prohibition against infringing upon the free exercise of religion applies to just about any government entity.
Fischer made this nonsensical argument against on his radio program today when he praised Joe Kennedy, a former assistant high school football coach who is now suing his school district for firing him for refusing to stop praying with students after games.
Despite the fact that, time and again, Fischer has insisted that the provisions of the First Amendment only apply to Congress and therefore cannot be violated by any other entity, Fischer bizarrely declared that the school district has violated Kennedy’s First Amendment rights.
“Good for you, coach Joe Kennedy,” Fischer declared. “He’s taking the district to court for violating his First Amendment rights, which is exactly what they’ve done … What does the First Amendment say? It says that Congress—and Bremerton [School District,] they interpret that to mean any governmental authority, that would include schools because they’re government schools—is not allowed to prohibit the free exercise of religion. What did Bremerton School District do when they told Joe Kennedy, ‘You can’t pray at midfield after a game’? They prohibited his free exercise of religion! They told him, ‘Your constitutional right—even though this is government property and the government is specifically prohibited from infringing on your free exercise rights—we are going to destroy the First Amendment here, doesn’t apply in Bremerton, doesn’t apply on a football field, you have lost that right. You have not only lost that right, you have lost your job.'”
Fischer’s current assertion that Bremerton is violating Kennedy’s First Amendment rights directly contradicts his longstanding assertion that only Congress can possibly violate the First Amendment. As he wrote just last year:
The truth is that it is constitutionally and historically impossible for a school to violate the First Amendment. Why? Easy. Because a school is not Congress.
As the very first word in the First Amendment makes clear, the First Amendment applies to Congress and Congress alone. “Congress shall make no law…” The only entity that is restrained by the Founders’ Constitution is Congress. Since Congress is the only entity restrained by the First Amendment, Congress is the only entity that can violate it.