Praying Coach and Freedom of Speech

The saga of the praying coach in Bremerton, Washington, continues.  Last night, the assistant coach attended the game as a member of the public as stipulated in his administrative leave agreement.  At that same game, members of the Seattle chapter of the Satanic Temple were watching the game and had requested an opportunity to do an invocation on the field.  After learning of the coach’s suspension, the group withdrew their request to perform the invocation.

The Seattle Times reported this about the satanist group who attended the game:

Temple spokeswoman Lilith Starr said the group was invited to protest Kennedy’s ritual of kneeling on the 50-yard line after games and praying. “We want equality for everyone,” she said. “If one group is allowed to pray, everyone should be.”

Starr said as the group was leaving that their mission was victorious because Kennedy did not pray on the field.

So it seems like the school district has said no to both the Christian and the Satanists. At least they are not discriminating against the Christians in this instance by allowing the Satanists time on the field.  But the bottom line is that at the same time the Bremerton School District is dancing around the First Amendment’s establishment clause, it is also squelching freedom of expression (another part of the First Amendment.). reported:

On Wednesday, the school district announced in a statement that Kennedy had been placed on a leave of absence and reiterated that on-field prayer would not be permitted. The statement also suggested that the district would be less-than-accommodating to a potential Satanist ritual:

The football field is not a public forum when it is in use for a District-sponsored athletic event. Thus, no group will be approved to use it for their own purposes while these events are occurring, and the District will take steps to enforce the closure of the field to non-participants while it is still in use of the District event.

The Founding Fathers were trying to set up rules that allowed people to have their own ideas and to agree or disagree in peaceful discourse.  I contend that they did not intend for us in the later generations to use the amendments as bludgeoning instruments with which to hurt those who oppose our positions.

Thomas Jefferson, would severely chastise these officials for misinterpreting freedom of speech and the establishment clause “separation of Church and State.” He was telling a pastor not to have any worries about the State encroaching on religion, but today’s enemies of God want to use the laws of Jefferson’s era to make a stand against Him and what is right.

According to the, Coach Kennedy is working with a legal team from Liberty Institute to defend himself against the Bremerton School District.  Litigation between the two parties will be ongoing unless the school district withdraws their suspension of the coach.  Liberty Institute lawyers have called the Bremerton School District a hostile work environment, and they are filing a discrimination suit against the district.