Have you been following the case of Coach Joe Kennedy? He’s a high school football coach from Bremerton, Washington who was fired simply for praying quietly by himself on the 50-yard line after games. On Monday, his case went before the U.S. Supreme Court, where our friends at First Liberty represented him.
Just ahead of those arguments, many of you gathered on 50-yard lines around the country to pray for Coach Kennedy, his lawyers, and religious freedom in America.
But now, with the arguments over, you may be wondering: what actually happened inside the courtroom? And how could the ruling impact YOU? We’re talking about this and more TODAY (April 27th) with Randy Wenger, Chief Counsel at Independence Law Center. Come get the full scoop!
Am I Free to Pray?
What just happened at the Supreme Court
A Conversation with Randy Wenger, Chief Legal Counsel at Independence Law Center
Wednesday, April 27, 2022
1 pm ET / 12 pm CT / 11 am MT / 10 am PT
You know about Coach Kennedy and his case. Now, join us for an engaging conversation about what actually happened in the court room and what this case could mean for you. Plus, learn how leaders from around the country have been involved in fighting for YOUR religious freedom in this case – and find out if that includes leaders from your own state!
Randy Wenger, Esq. is Chief Counsel of Independence Law Center, the civil rights legal arm of Pennsylvania Family Institute (our state partner in Pennsylvania). Randy is a longtime leader in the pro-family and religious liberty movement. Among his cases was a companion case to the Hobby Lobby religious liberty win at the U.S. Supreme Court. In Coach Kennedy’s case, Randy was the author of a brief signed by state leaders across the country calling for religious freedom for Coach and for all Americans.
P.S. Want to learn more about Coach’s case before the event? Catch our conversation with Coach Kennedy and one of his lawyers from First Liberty here: https://www.facebook.com/familypolicyalliance/videos/366130148784919
For years, Coach Kennedy would pray quietly on the 50-yard line following his games. Then, one day, the school fired him simply for praying by himself.
TODAY his case has finally made it to the US Supreme Court, where our friends at First Liberty Institute defended his God-given right to pray.
This case isn’t just about Coach Kennedy, though. It’s about the right of Americans across the country – especially teachers and coaches – to be able to simply pray.
Meet Coach Kennedy!
We talked to him just last week and now you can hear straight from Coach Kennedy and one of his lawyers at First Liberty.
Learn how Coach got started praying after games (hint: he was inspired by a movie), how he got fired, what he’s learned in this process and why he’s standing up for the right to pray across the country.
Plus, learn what this case could mean for you and what you can do to help protect religious freedom.
This week, Family Policy Alliance of New Mexico filed a Supreme Court brief in support of Coach Joseph Kennedy – because religious speech should not be singled-out for punishment in a free and diverse society.
Joe Kennedy coached football at the Bremerton School District in Washington State. At the end of each game, he would briefly pray, on his own, at the 50-yard line. Curious about what he was doing, a couple of students came to him and when they learned that he was praying, they asked if they could join. Kennedy responded, “It’s a free country, you can do what you want.” Without the coach’s prompting, more students joined in the post-game prayer and eventually students and coaches from other teams joined in as well.
Nearly half of the team had joined Coach Kennedy when the school suddenly told him that he could no longer pray publicly. Despite initially obeying the order, Kennedy believed it violated his freedoms of speech and religion and therefore, chose to return to his post-game prayer tradition – a decision that eventually cost him his job.
The school claimed that they needed to fire Coach Kennedy so that they would not be in violation of the Establishment Clause, a clause in the First Amendment that prohibits the government from “establishing” a religion. That’s the same clause twisted by the Supreme Court to rule that prayer in schools is “unconstitutional”.
The Supreme Court’s modern interpretation of the Establishment Clause has been based on the idea that religious pluralism requires neutrality. But in reality, the effect at schools like Bremerton School District has not been neutrality, but rather a singling out of only religious speech as the only speech worthy of punishment.
A school should not punish a coach for a brief prayer at the end of a football game. Our constitution does not require us to abandon our religious traditions, and the Establishment Clause does not require schools to fire a coach like Joe Kennedy. But if Coach Kennedy can be silenced, do any of us really have freedom?
We must do better! The brief that we have filed with the Supreme Court calls to question whether the Establishment Clause, created to protect our religious freedom from government involvement, trumps Coach Kennedy’s speech and religious rights to pray briefly at the 50-yard line.
Will you pray with us? Pray that the United States Supreme Court will recognize the encroachment of freedoms of both religion and speech in this case. Pray that their decision will honor the freedoms that our Founding Fathers established and that so many have given their lives to protect. Pray that religious speech will no longer be singled-out as the only speech worthy of punishment.
|A high school football coach who was fired for praying on the field after games is about to have his case heard in the U.S. Supreme Court. And you – through your support and engagement with Family Policy Alliance – are in the thick of the action as it heads to the Court.
When Joe Kennedy coached the high school football team in Bremerton, Washington, he regularly prayed alone briefly at the 50-yard line following games. At one point, a couple of his students asked if they could join. He responded that it’s a free country, and so they did.
Eventually, nearly half of the team had joined him, along with students and even coaches from the other teams. Suddenly, he was told by the school that he could no longer pray publicly. At first, he followed their order, but then he felt that his freedoms of speech and religion were being violated, and so he continued his prayers.
The school district fired him, saying that they needed to avoid violating the Establishment Clause. At issue in the case is whether Coach Kennedy has speech and religious rights to pray briefly in public.
With your support, Family Policy Alliance is engaging directly on this case. Today, we filed an amicus (friend of the court) brief with the U.S. Supreme Court. Justices regularly read such briefs and sometimes even cite them in their opinions.
Among other things, this powerful brief (which can be found on the Supreme Court website) points out that public schools allow all sorts of highly controversial beliefs, while singling out religious views for particular discrimination:
“[T]raditional religious beliefs are uniquely targeted for censure, while a host of comparable, religious-like beliefs receive a free pass or even endorsement. Rather than creating ‘neutrality between religion and religion, and between religion and nonreligion,’ a reasonable observer would comprehend that traditional religion alone is being treated as poisonous and inappropriate in society.”
Family Policy Alliance filed the brief together with 29 state family policy councils from around the country, including Pennsylvania’s Independence Law Center, which authored the brief. Family Policy Alliance is pleased to host this alliance of independent state-based family policy councils around the country. Together, this alliance advocates on behalf of more than a million citizens across the nation.
Please pray for this critical case. And thank you for making this effort possible with your support.
Director of State Alliances