Joe Kennedy & Religious Liberty


John R. Houk, Blog Editor

June 27, 2022

Coach [Praying] Joe Kennedy. (Image credit: First Liberty Institute) – Photo via CBN News

In recent SCOTUS rulings, Trump appointed Justices added Conservative Judicial clout enabling the Supreme Court to protect the 2nd Amendment in NY State and help protect the lives to unborn persons by striking down Roe v. Wade.

I discovered today that Leftist-haters of Religious Liberty on taxpayer supported property took another SCOTUS smackdown reversing 9th Appellate Courts approval of Bremerton High School persecution of then Asst. Football Coach Joe Kennedy for praying on the Football Field after games. I posted on Bremerton High School’s religious persecution of Coach Kennedy before he was discharged for his acts of faith way back in 2015.

Below you can read a couple of reports on Joe Kennedy’s Religious Liberty being upheld first from The Epoch Times and then from The Conservative Treehouse (or is it The Last Refuge, I never get that straight). Honorable mention goes to CBN News.

JRH 6/27/22

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Supreme Court Rules in Favor of High School Football Coach Fired for Post-Game Prayers

Decision overturns the oft-reversed 9th Circuit Court of Appeals

People walk past the Supreme Court building during a rainstorm in Washington on June 23, 2022. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

By Matthew Vadum

June 27, 2022 Updated: June 27, 2022

The Epoch Times

The Supreme Court ruled 6-3 on June 27 that a school district in Washington state violated First Amendment religious freedom protections when it fired high school football coach Joseph Kennedy for leading personal prayers at the 50-yard line after games.

The decision is regarded as a victory for religious freedom.

In the case, the high court held that the Free Exercise and Free Speech Clauses of the First Amendment protect an individual engaging in a personal religious observance from government reprisal.

The court found that the U.S. Constitution neither requires nor allows governments to suppress such religious expression.

Coach Joseph “Joe” Kennedy, who no longer works for the taxpayer-funded Bremerton School District in Washington state, claimed his rights were violated when the district forbade him from praying in view of the public after games.

The school district argued that when Kennedy prayed midfield after games, he was viewed by onlookers as a coach who was serving as a mentor and role model.

In this theory of the case, Kennedy was acting as a government employee at that moment, which would mean that he was engaging in speech that constituted government speech that isn’t protected by the First Amendment.

But the majority of Supreme Court justices disagreed with the school district in Kennedy v. Bremerton School District (court file 21-418), an appeal from the frequently overturned U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.

Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote the majority opinion (pdf) for the court. All six conservative justices, including Gorsuch, ruled in favor of Kennedy; all three liberal justices ruled against him. Oral argument was heard April 25.

Gorsuch noted that Kennedy lost his job as a high school football coach in the Bremerton School District “because he knelt at midfield after games to offer a quiet prayer of thanks” during a period “when school employees were free to speak with a friend, call for a reservation at a restaurant, check email, or attend to other personal matters.”

In other words, Kennedy offered “his prayers quietly while his students were otherwise occupied.”

The school district disciplined him because it believed anything less might lead a reasonable observer to mistakenly conclude that it endorsed Kennedy’s religious beliefs, Gorsuch wrote.

The district was wrong to do so, the justice added.

“The Free Exercise and Free Speech Clauses of the First Amendment protect expressions like Mr. Kennedy’s. Nor does a proper understanding of the Amendment’s Establishment Clause require the government to single out private religious speech for special disfavor.

“The Constitution and the best of our traditions counsel mutual respect and tolerance, not censorship and suppression, for religious and nonreligious views alike,” Gorsuch wrote.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor filed a dissenting opinion, which was joined by Justices Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan. The dissent characterizes Kennedy as a wrongdoer.

“This case is about whether a public school must permit a school official to kneel, bow his head, and say a prayer at the center of a school event,” Sotomayor wrote. “The Constitution does not authorize, let alone require, public schools to embrace this conduct.”

The Supreme Court is wrong to ignore “the severe disruption to school events caused by Kennedy’s conduct, viewing it as irrelevant because the Bremerton School District … stated that it was suspending Kennedy to avoid it being viewed as endorsing religion.”

Kennedy was responsible for “repeated disruptions of school programming and violations of school policy regarding public access to the field as grounds for suspending him.”

“This decision does a disservice to schools and the young citizens they serve, as well as to our nation’s longstanding commitment to the separation of church and state.”

The Supreme Court issued three opinions in total in already argued cases on June 27.

The court is trying to dispose of a backlog of cases before it leaves for summer recess. With the release of the three opinions, four remain to be released in the court’s current term.

When it wraps up, Justice Breyer is expected to formally leave the court and be replaced by Ketanji Brown Jackson, President Joe Biden’s nominee who was narrowly confirmed by the U.S. Senate on April 7.

On June 27, the court announced it will next issue opinions on June 29.

This is a developing story. This article will be updated.

Matthew Vadum is an award-winning investigative journalist and a recognized expert in left-wing activism.

Copyright © 2000 – 2022 The Epoch Times

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Freedom Wins, Supreme Court Sides with High School Coach Fired for Praying on Field After Games

By Sundance

June 27, 2022

The Conservative Treehouse

The Supreme Court has ruled in favor of Joseph Kennedy [Full Ruling Here] saying the Bremerton school district in Washington state was wrong to fire him for praying after football games with players of both teams. By a vote of 6-3, the justices ruled that Coach Joseph Kennedy’s conduct was protected by the First Amendment.

In 2015, Kennedy had been a part-time football coach at Bremerton High School for seven years. Coach Kennedy would pray at midfield after each game, alone, with players and with players of the opposing team joining him. When the school district learned about Kennedy’s prayers, they told him to stop. Kennedy refused, and despite wide support from parents and the community the district fired him.

Joseph-Kennedy-Washington-State-Prayer-in-School

Justice Neil Gorsuch delivered the court’s opinion and was joined in full by Chief Justice John Roberts, Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Amy Coney Barrett and Brett Kavanaugh. Gorsuch explained that the government’s only real justification for its decision to fire Kennedy “rested on a mistaken view that it had a duty to ferret out and suppress religious observances even as it allows comparable secular speech. The Constitution,” Gorsuch concluded, “neither mandates nor tolerates that kind of discrimination.”

(Via Christian Post) […] “Kennedy prayed during a period when school employees were free to speak with a friend, call for a reservation at a restaurant, check email, or attend to other personal matters. He offered his prayers quietly while his students were otherwise occupied. Still, the Bremerton School District disciplined him anyway,” wrote Gorsuch.

“Both the Free Exercise and Free Speech Clauses of the First Amendment protect expressions like Mr. Kennedy’s … The Constitution and the best of our traditions counsel mutual respect and tolerance, not censorship and suppression, for religious and nonreligious views alike.”

In response to today’s opinion, Kennedy said, “This is just so awesome. All I’ve ever wanted was to be back on the field with my guys. I am incredibly grateful to the Supreme Court, my fantastic legal team, and everyone who has supported us. I thank God for answering our prayers and sustaining my family through this long battle.”

Kelly Shackelford, president, CEO and chief counsel for First Liberty, a religious liberty law firm based in Plano, Texas, which represented Kennedy, hailed the court’s decision as a “tremendous victory for Coach Kennedy and religious liberty for all Americans.” (more)

“For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” 

Matthew 18:20

football-prayer

“Will you pray with me?” or “will you allow me to pray with you?”  These are examples of the strongest proactive affirmations of fellowship, love and faith you can bring to any encounter. Prayer works. However, it is not enough to simply to stop and pray, we should immediately affirm the intent of the moment. We should pause, gather or assemble, and pray in His name. That is where the Spirit of Jesus will manifest. Seek to gather with others in the name of Jesus and experience His presence in the moments of life.

Fellowship is important. There are many biblical commands concerning “one another” because God does not want us to be alone. Isolation and/or aloneness is not living, it can be painful and harmful to our spirit. Burdens weight most when carried alone. Fellowship is the connective tissue that brings life to our journey. When you feel hardship, pray. When you see hardship, pray. When you find hardship in another, pray.

There is no level of experience needed for prayer, nor is there an apprenticeship for faith. While living, pay attention. When you see a burden reach out, feel, connect, and begin… “Dear God,”….. the rest will follow.

© 2022 The Conservative Treehouse

Christianity Attacked by School District in Washington


John R. Houk

© October 30, 2015

Did you happen to catch a 20 second blurb on any TV news about a Bremerton High School (Washington State) football coach that got in trouble because his School District told him he couldn’t exercise his First Amendment right to pray on the fifty yard line after a game because some idiot probably complained it violated a myth that the Constitution says there is a Separation of Church and State clause in said Constitution?

 

Here is an excerpt from gopusa.com that was acquired from the Seattle Times:

 

BREMERTON — Surrounded by members of his team, players from the rival Centralia High School and scores of supporters from Kitsap County and beyond, Bremerton High assistant coach Joe Kennedy knelt on the 50-yard line after Friday night’s game and prayed.

 

It was some version of the basic prayer he’s said for years, he said afterward.

 

“Lord, I thank you for these kids and the blessing you’ve given me with them. We believe in the game, we believe in competition and we can come into it as rivals and leave as brothers.” (Crowd prays with football coach as he defies school district; By Seattle Times; GOPUSA.com; 10/19/15 6:55 am)

 

image00217
Joe Kennedy-Media-Half Time. 10-29-30

 

I’ll be honest I was a bit amazed to hear of a coach in Washington State, especially west of the Cascade Mountain Range, in which a huge part of the population are Leftist or have Leftist sympathies. I grew up in Washington State. However I grew up east of the Cascades. The difference between Eastern and Western Washington is like night and day.

 

Most of the State’s population live on the Western side. Probably a little less than a third live on the Eastern side which consists of two-thirds of the State area. The East side is more Conservative but the dispersion of various State Universities on the East side injects the draw of students brainwashed by Left oriented professors. The dynamics of people going to college and work for the college has injected West side Left think in significant voting areas on the East side.

 

But getting back to Bremerton High Schools Coach Joe Kennedy, that Christian man is smack dab in the middle of the powers that be that are hot to enforce the Separation of Church and State concept. That concept NEVER existed in America’s rule of law until SCOTUS opinion handed down by Justice Hugo Black wrote the majority decision fabricating the myth exists in the First Amendment in disestablishment clause:

 

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion”

 

This is the ONLY place in the Constitution addressing the relationship of government to religious faith in America.

 

While the concept of separation of church and state might be implied by the First Amendment which states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof….”, it says nothing about the “separation of church and state.” And, even if you accept the principle of the separation of church and state being implied by the First Amendment, it’s implication is not there to protect Americans from religion, it is there to protect religious Americans from the government.

In their desire to promote their secular humanist philosophy using the power of government, many liberals today want to alter America’s Christian heritage and replace it with the 10 Planks of Communism. They want to remove religion from our history and replace it with the Soviet doctrine of the separation of Church and State. They don’t want to safeguard denominational neutrality by the state as the Founders intended, rather they want to eradicate every vestige of religion from our public institutions. (The bold emphasis is mine. America’s Godly Heritage; Jeremiah Project)

 

Hugo Black wrote the majority 5/4 decision that created extra constitutional law by fiat in the case of Everson v. Board of Education of the Township of Ewing on February 10, 1947. Even after 1947 the Black decision did not go into immediate effect until America’s Left began whittling the Christian faith out of the taxpayer public forum for a good twenty years or via judicial case law after case law. Black’s wording created ex nihilo from a Jefferson letter to a Baptist Church concerned about the state government establishing a Church became the foundation for Leftist case law.

 

Although I am surprised about a man like Joe Kennedy taking a stand for Christ and the Original Intent of the Bill of Rights. I am not surprised that anything west of the Cascades is pushing an extra constitutional concept against a Christian man devoted to Christ.

image0038
Asst. Coach Joe Kennedy

 

AFA Petition: Stand With Coach Kennedy and His Right to Pray

 

JRH 10/30/15

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Praying football coach placed on paid leave by district

 

By Associated Press

October 29, 2015

One News Now

 

SEATTLE (October 29, 2015) — The coach of a Washington state high school football team who prayed at games despite orders from the school district to stop was placed on paid administrative leave Wednesday.

 

Bremerton School District officials said in a statement that assistant football coach Joe Kennedy’s leave was necessitated because of his refusal to comply with district directives that he refrain from engaging in overt, public religious displays on the football field while on duty as a coach.

 

Kennedy has vocally engaged in pregame and postgame prayers, sometimes joined by students, since 2008. But the practice recently came to the district’s attention, and it asked him to stop.

 

He initially agreed to the ban, but then, with support from the Texas-based Liberty Institute, a religious-freedom organization, he resumed the postgame prayers, silently taking a knee for 15 to 20 seconds at midfield after shaking hands with the opposing coaches. His lawyers insist he is not leading students in prayer, just praying himself.

 

“While the district appreciates Kennedy’s many positive contributions to the BHS football program, and therefore regrets the necessity of this action, Kennedy’s conduct poses a genuine risk that the District will be liable for violating the federal and state constitutional rights of students or others. For this reason, Kennedy will not be allowed to further violate the District’s directives,” the statement said.

 

The district said Kennedy remains employed by the district and unless his status changes, will be paid through the remainder of his contract term. He won’t be allowed to participate in any activities related to the Bremerton football program although the district said he can attend games as a member of the public.

 

The controversy has focused attention on Bremerton, across the Puget Sound west of Seattle, and on the role of religion in public schools. On Tuesday, dozens of lawmakers in the Congressional Prayer Caucus sent a letter to the superintendent expressing support for the coach.

 

Also this week, The Satanic Temple, which has 42 members in its Seattle chapter, announced that its members were open to being invited to a game, and a few students and teachers extended such invitations. The organization doesn’t believe in Satan except as “a potent symbol of rebellion against tyranny,” it says on its website. It’s an atheist group that rejects the notion of supernatural deities and espouses values such as scientific inquiry and compassion, it says.

 

The group suggested that by allowing the coach to continue praying, the district has created a forum for religious expression open to all groups. It requested permission to perform an invocation on the field after the game. The district had not responded as of Wednesday and did not respond to a request for comment regarding the group.

 

On Wednesday night, Kennedy’s lawyer, Hiram Sasser, called the paid leave a hostile employment action.

 

“It’s surprising and shocking,” Sasser said.

 

He said they plan to file a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which he said is a next step.

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[Blog Editor: Below is a side story on the same One News Now article. I find it creepy that Seattle Satanist atheists attend Bremerton High School football game exerting their First Amendment rights. Atheists don’t really pray so the Left doesn’t go after them. Creepy Halloween in Bremerton Washington.]

 

Sr. class president: I invited Satanic group

 

(Associated Press) – A student leader at a Washington state high school says he invited a self-described group of Satanists to protest a Christian football coach’s postgame prayers.

 

Bremerton High School senior class President Abe Bartlett says he was one of a few students who invited The Satanic Temple of Seattle to attend today’s game. He called it an effort to get the school district to clarify its policy: While officials last month asked assistant coach Joe Kennedy to stop praying at the 50-yard line, he has continued the practice.

 

The Satanic Temple wants to hold an invocation on the field. The group says the district, by tolerating Kennedy’s actions, has created a forum for religious expression that should be open to all groups.

 

Kennedy’s lawyers, who are with the Texas-based Liberty Institute, say allowing Kennedy to pray silently doesn’t create a public forum.

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Christianity Attacked by School District in Washington

John R. Houk

© October 30, 2015

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Praying football coach placed on paid leave by district

 

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