Bremerton High School football coach Joe Kennedy is going to cost his school district a lot of money (which I’ve written about in detail here). He keeps leading prayers after games even though his school district, which seems acutely aware that they would lose a lawsuit over this, is telling him to stop.
…Kennedy and his legal representation, the Liberty Institute, claim the policy violates Kennedy’s rights under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which “prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin, and religion.”
Yeah, except it’s not discrimination when no teacher is allowed to directly influence the religious beliefs of students. Christian teachers can’t nudge students toward Christianity, atheist teachers can’t nudge students toward atheism, Muslim teachers can’t nudge students toward Islam, etc.
Part of the conversation in the public has been that Kennedy has a right, under the First Amendment of the Constitution, to pray, and that anyone, of any religion, should be allowed to participate in post-game expression of their religion.
Yeah, that’s because the public has the attention span of a puppy with ADD. The only place where the conversation about whether or not the coach has a right to pray is among fundamentalists searching so desperately for a reason to feel persecuted that they’re more than happy to reach outside of reality to find it.
The real question at hand, the one a court would be tackling as the result of a lawsuit, is whether or not the coach has a right to encourage students to pray or to endorse Christianity in his capacity as a teacher/government employee. The answer to that question is simple: no, he doesn’t. He can pray on his own time until he passes out from lack of oxygen. He can say hi to students at church if he sees them there at random and tell them all about Jesus then. But when he’s a coach he can’t exert that influence to advance his religion to a captive audience. The precedent on this is exceedingly clear.To give those aforementioned fundamentalists a taste of what it feels like to be on the other side when your kids are being exposed to a religion they don’t like at school, the Satanic Temple is stepping up to the plate:
In response, the Satanic Temple of Seattle has offered to host a Satanic Invocation following the next football game, or at any subsequent football games, if requested.
“The Satanic Temple will gladly come and perform a Satanic invocation at an upcoming school event if asked by a student or staff member, unless the Bremerton school district prevents coach Kennedy from praying at this Friday’s [sic] coming football game, and/or disciplines him accordingly,” said Lilith Starr, Seattle chapter head of the Satanic Temple.
“We intend to take full advantage of the same religious forum, since the district has failed to take action on what is clearly a breach of church-state separation.”
Essentially the Satanic Temple is saying that Coach Kennedy has opened the door and now they’re free to walk through it as far as they like – and they intend to until the district closes the door. All they need is an invite.
But why stop there? The open forum has been created, so why not invite an atheist to march behind Kennedy and tell students there’s no god and all this Jesus stuff is just hogwash. Invite a Muslim, Pastafarian…go nuts.