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

Fair Trial


Shamim Masih examines religious and minority suffering in Pakistan using the Asia Bibi acquittal of her accused Blasphemy as a launching point.

JRH 2/8/19

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Fair Trial

 

By SHAMIM MASIH

Sent: February 4, 2019 9:40 PM

 

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court of Pakistan, finally set aside a review petition of a Christian woman Asia Bibi, accused of blasphemy, after spent more than 8 years in prison. The decision is being warmly welcomed by rights activists, local and international community. The judgement is unclear about the action against those who falsely accused her of blasphemy and gave false testimonies to mislead the court and public though. I’m not law expert but the law teachers said that ‘for every wrong, the law provides a remedy’. He who wrongs another is to be punished. But there are significant remarks by the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) while grilling the petitioner’s lawyer.

 

All we can say is, ‘little drop of water in the mighty ocean’. CJP Khosa rebuked the witness for lying under oath, and added that they would have been jailed for life if the case wasn’t so sensitive. But there is provision in law if Asia Bibi’s lawyer takes up the issue and files a case against those who falsely accused her of blasphemy, the courts would be morally bound to award a punishment to Asia’s tormentors. But victims of blasphemy in Pakistan usually refrain from challenging the false accusers even after they are acquitted.

 

The UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt though welcomes this judgement during his launching speech on Persecution of Christians across the Globe independent review. He said, ‘I think the news about Asia Bibi this week is extremely encouraging, but the truth is that unless we make a real effort and unless the world knows that we are making a real effort, those bits of good news will become the exception and not the rule. And that’s what we don’t want to allow to happen’. He also showed his concerns about the persecution of Christians in Pakistan and said, ‘we particularly want to look at the issue of Christian persecution’. The US has already conveyed the concerns of the Christians persecution in Pakistan and Pakistan has been denying it.

 

As citizens, we have reciprocal rights and responsibilities. But in Pakistan, we have experienced that government always see the win-win situation. In the late November, 2018 the Prime Minister Imran Khan laid foundation stone for Kartarpur Corridor. The gesture is a breakthrough between two neighbouring countries and Pakistan widely claimed as protecting minorities’ rights. Pakistan Foreign Office Spokesperson Muhammad Faisal told the media in Islamabad before leaving for Kartarpur that the opening of the Kartarpur border was the historic step for welfare of minorities. ‘It shows that Pakistan takes care of minorities,’ he said.

 

Undoubtedly this is a significant move by the Pakistani government, if the dream comes true as there are grievances from the both sides. But if we see the govt. is playing and protecting minorities’ rights are only slogans. A delegation of young Pakistani Catholics was prevented by government officials from flying out of the country to join the Jan. 22-27 World Youth Day in Pakistan. The Fides news agency reported that 14 young Pakistani Catholics with regular visas who were about to fly out to join the Catholic Church’s World Youth Day (WYD) in Panama were blocked at Lahore airport by Pakistan’s Department for Immigration Office. World Youth Day is an event for young people organized by the Catholic Church, which was initiated by Pope John Paul 2 in 1985. It is religious gathering and being organised every year by the Catholic Church.

 

The threatening letter to Churches issued by the local government is a clear violation of the Constitution of the country but also violating the international obligations. The Punjab government issued letter on January 02, 2019 saying to take all security arrangements and concerned departments are also directed to close/seal the Churches if in case failure of compliance of directives. While in the Constitution, the state is responsible to safe guard the rights and worship places of the minorities. Article 20 does not merely confer a private right to profess but confers a right to practice both privately and publicly. The state shall safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of minorities and the ultimate goal of the state should be to eradicate religious intolerance in Pakistan.

 

The sad reality is that such a policy exits on paper only. Religious and ethnic minorities continue to suffer discrimination. This continues despite the constitutional obligation to protect the life, property and worship places of all citizens regardless of their caste, ethnicity, religion or gender. The state plays the role of the bystander when human rights abuses occur at the hands of the powerful majority groups.

 

Minorities have regularly been hoodwinked into believing that their rights shall be guaranteed and protected by the state. The state shall safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of minorities and the ultimate goal of the state should be to eradicate religious intolerance in Pakistan. Ends/

 

Be Blessed,

 

Shamim Masih

Diplomatic Correspondents

Online Int’l News Networks

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Journalist, Blogger and Social Reformer

+92-300-642-4560

[Blog Editor: Shamim also does Christian activism in Pakistan. It can be dangerous work in Islamic Pakistan. Please consider a contribution. The last I heard services like PayPal are not supported in Pakistan. The Western Union is a good way to send money which will transfer into Pakistan Rupee – https://www.westernunion.com/us/en/send-money.html; Shamim Masih; Islamabad; +92-300-642-4560.

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Edited by John R. Houk

Source links supplied by the Editor.

 

© Shamim Masih

 

Religious Bigotry


Blood Stained Pakistan Flag

Shamim Masih writes about pseudo-peace negotiations between the Islamic Terrorist organization Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) – which is outlawed in Pakistan – and Pakistan’s recognized legitimate political parties. Shamim finishes by recognizing the propaganda absurdity of a seminar that took place sponsored by the Asian Study Group promoting the concept that Islam is a peaceful and tolerant of other (i.e. non-Muslim) religions. Here is the quote put out by the Pakistan event that Shamim responds to:

 

“Many mistakenly believe that Islam does not tolerate the existence of other religions. Islam recognizes that there are a plurality of religions on this earth, and gives the right to individuals to choose the path which they believe to be true. They gave the examples from the life of their Prophet (PBUH) epitomize the verse of the Quran which promotes religious tolerance and sets the guideline for Muslims’ interaction with people of other faiths.”

 

 

JRH 2/6/14

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Religious Bigotry

 

By Shamim Masih

Sent: 2/4/2014 7:17 PM

 

ISLAMABAD: Because of my internet problem, I couldn’t release however this matter forced me personally to do this. We are building not so much a multi-racial society or a multi-cultural society, we are building separate societies which really don’t have much to do with other. Equipped with just enough religion to hate those with another faith but not enough to love their coreligionists – Pakistanis have mostly turned their backs on religious atrocities. Religion is not to be, and was never, forced upon an individual against their own will.  Unfortunately Pakistan is facing terrorism and some Islamic fundamentalists want to impose their rigid rituals and rights and the Pakistani government is in a state of confusion whether to face them or to face terrorism. In this turmoil, government is again wasting time to negotiate with them, knowingly that this process will bring no solid result.

 

Taliban peacekeeping troops and government of Pakistan negotiators are meeting to devise a strategy for formally kick-starting a much-awaited dialogue process. The Taliban had nominated five prominent figures – Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) [Alternative PTI profile] Chairman Imran Khan, Jamiat Ullma-e-Islam (JUI-S) chief Maulana Sami ul Haq, Jamaat-e-Islamai (JI) leader Prof. Mohammad Ibrahim, JUI-F politician Mufti Kifayat ullah and Lal Masjid prayer leader Maulana Abdul Aziz to act as intermediaries between them and the government’s negotiating team. But JUI and PTI – the two avid supporters of peace talks wished the proposed dialogue luck and excused themselves from the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan’s intermediary committee. And now the Taliban will be nominate Insar Abbasi and Oriay Maqbool Jan in the squad.

 

Fawad Chaudhry, one of the PPP [Pakistan Peoples Party (Alternative PPP profile)] political leaders has demanded that people nominated by Taliban for negotiations should be arrested and investigated for their links with terrorists. I support his stance because once these people are living in the country and if they are representing the militant groups and will negotiate on their behalf it means that they are one of them either in spirit or practice.

 

Asian Study Group, in collaboration with Kuch Khass, arranged a multimedia presentation on Religious Tolerance & Islam. They believe that – “Many mistakenly believe that Islam does not tolerate the existence of other religions. Islam recognizes that there are a plurality of religions on this earth, and gives the right to individuals to choose the path which they believe to be true. They gave the examples from the life of their Prophet (PBUH) epitomize the verse of the Quran which promotes religious tolerance and sets the guideline for Muslims’ interaction with people of other faiths.”

 

I am not a religious scholar but I know about my faith and very well aware of it as well. I wanted them to ask, which Sharia you wanted to impose, either the Taliban design or what about the Sharia which is already imposed in the constitution of Pakistan or both? I feel it is already scripted and its nut shell is; both groups will sit and negotiate and design some restrictions to be imposed on margined position in the society like women and religious minorities. It may demand to tighten the rope and neck of the minorities likely poised to make the death penalty compulsory for blasphemy. Earlier Pakistan faced a looming deadline to either comply with a court ruling to amend the country’s penal code to make the death penalty the only lawful punishment for blasphemy or to appeal the order. It may restrict religious freedom or freedom of expression. It is already the practice that religious minorities are not leading a healthy life in this arena. I am afraid that Pakistani Christians are already living a miserable life and do not have the right to be heard. If the government shot the bullet putting on Taliban shoulders, what will be Christian future in this country?

 

Be Blessed,

Shamim Masih

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Edited by John R. Houk.

All explanatory links provided by the Editor. Brackets indicate Editor Additions to the text.

 

© Shamim Masih

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Editor: For Americans especially, I have discovered the best way to donate to Shamim Masih is via Western Union sending to a Western Union agent in Islamabad.

 

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