As we have been updating regularly, Bremerton High School football coach Joe Kennedy is under attack by the Bremerton School District for the mere act of praying on the field after games. Many of you have been asking how you can support Coach Kennedy. Here’s how:
Supporters are rallying in attendance at the November 12 Bremerton School Board meeting. Wear blue or gold to show your support. We are looking for volunteers to speak in defense of Coach Kennedy at the meeting. Creators of the event expect to have talking points prepared for you or you can speak from your own heart. Contact the creator of the event on Facebook or email email@example.com if you wish to speak at the meeting. Join the event on Facebook for the latest updates. #SupportCoachKennedy
For those who don’t wish to speak or cannot attend the meeting, but wish to make your voice heard, organizers have crafted an easy way to take action from your keyboard. Just copy & paste the message below (or modify as desired) into an email to:
To the Bremerton School District Board of Directors- Scott Rahm, J. David Rubie, Jonee Dubos, Alyson Rotter, and Carolynn Perkins, and to Superintendent Aaron Leavall,
As a citizen of and voter in this community, I request that the Bremerton School Board re-establish Coach Joe Kennedy’s position immediately.
Mr. Kennedy was not in violation of the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause as you have presented it. Mr. Kennedy was not coercing anyone to pray with him, nor was he requiring that students participate; no imposition of religious beliefs took place per RCW 28A.600.025(2). Additionally, Mr. Kennedy was not acting as an agent of government seeking to establish a national religion.
The establishment of religion clause means at least this: Neither a state nor the federal government may set up a church. Neither can pass laws that aid one sect nor prefer one sect over another. Neither can force a person to go to or to remain away from church against his will nor force him to profess a belief or disbelief in any religion. Former chief justice, Joseph Story, wrote in his “Commentaries on the Constitution”: “The real object of the [First] Amendment was . . . to prevent any national ecclesiastical establishment, which should give to an hierarchy the exclusive patronage of the national government.” Based on this, Mr. Kennedy cannot be in violation of the law by praying after a football game.
The Bremerton School District; however, is in violation of the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment protection of religious expression. The First Amendment was adopted to prevent Congress from establishing a national religion and to ensure individual religious freedom, which the school board is now attempting to deny. The Bremerton School District is also in violation of the Washington State Constitution’s Article I, Section 11 guarantee of absolute freedom to worship. In the actions taken by the board, Mr. Kennedy has been “molested or disturbed … on account of religion.”
Justice Douglas wrote in the Supreme Court’s 1952 opinion in Zorach v. Clauson, “We are a religious people whose institutions presuppose a Supreme Being. … When the state encourages religious instruction or cooperates with religious authorities … it follows the best of our traditions. For it then respects the religious nature of our people and accommodates the public service to their spiritual needs.” Additionally, Chief Justice Burger wrote in the 1984 Lynch v. Donnelly opinion, “No significant segment of our society, and no institution within it, can exist in a vacuum or in total or absolute isolation from all the other parts.” Again referencing Zorach, the board placing Mr. Kennedy in a vacuum would be showing “a callous indifference” and, at worst, “preferring those who believe in no religion over those who do believe.”
Please accommodate the spiritual needs of Mr. Kennedy and the people of this community, by reinstating his position.
(First and Last Name)
Join the event on Facebook.
Post to the event page or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org when you’ve sent the email, so we can track the effectiveness of this campaign.
[Hat-Tip to Autumn Starre Bennett for the organization leadership!]