Iowa State University Head Football Coach Gene Chizik proposed having a chaplain for the ISU football team that would be privately funded. With all of the recent controversy and trouble that this football squad has had I believe that it is a great idea.
Not surprisingly the editorial board of the Des Moines Register thinks otherwise. They said in today’s editorial “No room for a chaplain on ISU’s squad“:
Although the U.S. Supreme Court has in some respects muddled First Amendment law as it pertains to public educational institutions, there is no misunderstanding about the meaning of the first line of the First Amendment to the Constitution: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” It’s inconceivable that a public university could install a Christian minister in the official capacity as a chaplain anywhere on campus without violating that clear language. It would make no difference whether the chaplain were paid by Warren Buffett or took the job without pay (actually many college football teams have volunteer chaplains).
First of all it is clear from history that the founding fathers had a different interpretation of the First Amendment than the Register Editorial Board. I’veblogged on that before so I won’t get into that here. Secondly many public institutions have chaplains like I don’t know…. the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives. They also get paid with public funds which I’m sure has the ACLU and Americans United for the Separation of Church and State all upset. Also a third point, the Register needs to get input on this topic from people other than an ACLU lawyer. They are somewhat biased.