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Editorial: Supreme Court decisions blur line between church and state

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Corvallis SCOTUS Demonstration Signs

People from the mid-Willamette Valley gather with pro-abortion and anti-U.S. Supreme Court signs during a demonstration Friday, June 24, outside Benton County Courthouse in Corvallis.

Two recent Supreme Court decisions blurred the line between separation of church and state, and specifically, Christianity and state.

One of those decisions overturns Roe v. Wade, and the other involves a high school coach leading public postgame prayers.

These and other recent rulings will erode trust in the nation’s highest court, cause division and have long-lasting and unintended consequences. Overall, the result is drastic societal change that won’t benefit the people.

Junior Jaycee Nicholas Abele gives a fundraising pitch for the 45th annual Independence Day fireworks display.

Abortion was a given as a right for Americans since 1973, but no longer, and the overturning of Roe v. Wade in the high court's recent case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, highlights difficulties facing women.

Women were finally starting to get closer to equal rights across the United States, though there was certainly more to be done. The Roe v. Wade decision pulls the rug out from underneath them.

Leaving abortion to the states to decide because the procedure wasn’t deeply rooted in the Constitution is particularly troubling. “We the People” meant something vastly different to our Founding Fathers when they wrote the document 200 years ago.

In that light, the Supreme Court’s ruling on abortion also seems enshrined in a traditional Christian patriarchal worldview. Other religions don’t have problems with the procedure. Women support abortion more than men.

Our editorial board doesn’t favor abortion per se, but we believe it should remain a right guaranteed for health care reasons, body autonomy and privacy. This is a rather nuanced view, and most Americans have complex opinions on the topic, according to the Pew Research Center.

More than 60% of Americans believe that abortion should be legal in all or most instances, data indicates. But a closer look reveals that those who favor and oppose the procedure usually do so in varying shades. Few either support abortion or oppose it at all times, the Pew Research Center states in a detailed review.

Unfortunately, policies often have the nuance of a sledgehammer. Some states won’t allow abortions even in cases of rape, incest, or where the fetus poses a health danger. And for these reasons, top medical organizations expressed outrage in the aftermath of the Supreme Court decision.

“Tourism” will bring women to Oregon and elsewhere on the West Coast for abortions and pregnancy complications. The city of Ontario, near Idaho’s border, may become a fascinating flashpoint in this national debate.

The curious case of a Washington high school football coach engaging in a postgame prayer sets a precarious precedent, as well.

In our view, it comes razor thin to establishing a religious practice by a government employee on government property and government time, and specifically, as an educator acting in loco parentis — he’s in a position of authority and a role model.

Part of the reason we have these lines is that children are considered vulnerable to the guidance of these figures. The school district involved said student athletes felt pressure to conform and participate.

And is that any surprise? High school coaches demand obedience 99% of the time. There’s a spot on the team for freelancers who aren’t supremely talented. It’s called the bench.

Plenty of Christians have applauded this performative religious act. Would they feel the same about a Jew, Muslim or Buddhist coach loudly leading “private” prayers on the 50-yard-line, or in the cafeteria while on break? What about a Pastafarian who ironically “worships” the Flying Spaghetti Monster? What about a Satanist?

These individuals are protected in the same way as Christians, and the court’s majority opened up a veritable Pandora’s Box.

These Supreme Court decisions — and others in the past week or so, including on firearms, factory emissions and more — show the importance of elections. Elections have consequences.

Former President Donald Trump, who looks more repugnant with each additional Jan. 6 hearing, installed three conservative Supreme Court judges and that’s tilted the power of group. Unfortunately — right or wrong — the Supreme Court is now viewed by many residents not as an impartial body but as a political entity making activist rulings that obliterate precedent.

Judge Clarence Thomas hinted that same-sex sexual relationships, gay marriage and contraception might be the next targets.

Concepts Americans believed their entire lives as concrete and absolute no longer exist. What’s next?


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