Pastor Allen Joyner, who also announced football games at McKenzie High School in Alabama, has been at the center of a firestorm involving what he said at Friday’s game before resigning from his voluntary role. He was quoted as saying, “If you don’t want to stand for the National Anthem, you can line up over there by the fence and let our military personnel take a few shots AT you since they’re taking shots FOR you.”
Joyner later said he was misquoted. He never called for violence. He just wanted to make dissenters feel bad. What he actually said, according to him (and only him) was, “If you don’t want to stand for the National Anthem, please go sit at the baseball field and let some of our folks take a shot at reminding you of the price our military paid for your freedom to sit.”
In any case, he explained his side of the story yesterday on WAAO TV. (We have more on that interview right here.)
While most of that conversation is about the National Anthem debacle, Joyner inadvertently said something else problematic around the 2:26 mark:
At McKenzie we wait until everybody — until the teams are out there — before we have our invocation and our National Anthem because we want the players to hear it too. By the way, they still let us pray.
Public schools aren’t allowed to pray over the loudspeakers at football games. (Individuals are welcome to do so all they want, but the District itself cannot promote religion like that.)
The Freedom From Religion Foundation has now sent a letter to District Superintendent Amy Bryan requesting assurance that these prayers will come to an end, even if Pastor Joyner no longer volunteers in the booth:
… the Supreme Court has ruled that the prayers at McKenzie football games are precisely what the First Amendment to the Constitution prohibits.
Like the prayer practices in Santa Fe, the prayers at any Butler County School athletic events are inappropriate and unconstitutional. Not only is the District endorsing these prayers by allotting time for them at the start of games, but it is also providing the prayer-giver with the public address system needed to impose these prayers on all students and community members at games. Public school events must be secular to protect the freedom of conscience of all students.
There’s no getting around this statement. Joyner may reject interpretations of what he said regarding the National Anthem — even though he was still wrong to insist that Anthem protesters deserved to be spoken down to by True Patriots™ — but he freely admitted to waiting until students were on the field before starting official prayers because “we want the players to hear it, too.”
Maybe Joyner should try keeping his thoughts to himself and his church. He clearly has no idea what the boundaries are when working for the District. And apparently the District isn’t aware of the law, either.