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Risk-averse bureaucrats: Christians easier to shut down than angry atheists

Coach Joe Kennedy
by WorldTribune Staff, April 20, 2022

"...the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state but from the hand of God." — John F. Kennedy, Inaugural Address, January 20, 1961

The United States of America was founded on a quest for religious freedom, forged on the principles of the Judeo-Christian belief system and both rooted in and raised to a state of exceptionalism on a concept of individual rights coming from, as Kennedy stressed, God, not government.

Oral argument is scheduled to take place Monday, April 25 in the U.S. Supreme Court case of high school football coach Joe Kennedy, who was forced from his job after he refused an administrative order to stop praying on the field at the end of games.

"The crime of praying. In America? In a nation — is there really such a thing as a crime of praying?" Washington Times columnist Cheryl K. Chumley asked in an April 19 op-ed.

"This is how far America has strayed from its foundations."

Kennedy began his coaching position in 2008 at Bremerton High School in Washington state.

On April 15, “nearly eight years after being fired for praying by himself at the 50-yard line after a football game, Coach Kennedy filed his final brief with the U.S. Supreme Court,” said Hiram Sasser, executive general counsel for First Liberty Institute, which is representing Kennedy. (See the brief here).

"Just as Bremerton School District acknowledged in 2015, this issue quickly shifted from his leading prayer with students to a coach’s right to conduct personal, private prayer on the 50-yard line after each game. The commitment Coach Kennedy made to pray after a game did not involve others; it was (and is) to pray by himself at the 50-yard line after each game. No one should be forced to choose between their faith and their livelihood,” Sasser added.

Nobody had complained about Kennedy's prayer at games, but school administrators "caught wind of what he was doing and sent him a stern warning about policy that said staff couldn’t encourage students to engage in religious activity — that is to say, then pinheaded bureaucrats in the district ran like frightened sheep from the possibility that someone might sue, so they knee-jerked and intimidated the coach into stifling his prayers," Chumley wrote. "Yes, knee-jerked. They could’ve rallied behind the coach; they could’ve stood tall on the principles of free speech, free assembly, freedom of worship, freedom in America — or just common sense: The prayers, after all, were voluntary."

Chumley continued: "But in bureauspeak — the language, obviously, of these Washington school administrators — the logic goes like this: Christians are so much easier to shut up than, say, an angry atheist who might come along and make a call to the, oh, say, Freedom From Religion Foundation or to the, hmm, perhaps, American Civil Liberties Union, and then join forces and launch a lawsuit that will entangle the school in legal battles, in costly legal battles, in expensive, ugly, well-publicized legal battles for months and even years to come. School administrators hate that. School administrators will do whatever it takes to avoid these scenarios.

"So they go the path of perceived least resistance...

"Christians don’t fight.

"Atheists, on the other hand, do.

"That logic? That’s been pretty much the battlefield in America for years now."

That logic, Chumley noted, "has worked in bureaucrats’ favor. Bureaucrats have expected Christians, by and large, to stifle and stay quiet and go away because Christians, by and large, with few exceptions, have done just that."

Coach Kennedy's Supreme Court case "is the eye of America’s storm," Chumley wrote. "If justices rule one way, it’s the underscore and recognition of all that’s great about America — of all that America is — of all that keeps this country rooted in freedom. If justices rule another way, it’s the end of all that America is — of all that makes America, America. Think about it."

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