Not only as a Christian, but as a general believer in something bigger than myself, reading and hearing about religious discrimination hits close to home. A few weeks ago, an assistant football coach was put on paid leave for praying during the games.
Coach Joe Kennedy was “booted from the locker room at Bremerton High School in Washington State,” according to Fox News’ article “High school boots praying football coach” by Todd Starnes. Kennedy was placed on administrative leave after refusing to stop his post-game prayers.
Kennedy is being represented by Liberty Institute, “the nation’s largest law firm dedicated to defending religious liberty,” according to the Fox News’ article. His attorney, Hiram Sasser, states the school district is “sending the message to all people of faith that they are not welcome.”
Sasser also said the school officials refused to meet with him and that he only spoke with their lawyer for half an hour, according to the article. It seems obvious the officials are avoiding Sasser and Coach Kennedy, which can lead to a questionable prosecution of how serious they are taking this matter.
I understand a lot of different people have different religious beliefs, which makes religious jurisdiction such a sensitive subject. After all, everyone has the right to believe what he or she wants.
However, Kennedy wasn’t leading a huge prayer organization during the football games. He was simply praying after them.
According to Seattle Times’ article “Bremerton coach’s prayers catch attention of Congress,” Kennedy prayed by himself at first, but a few other coaches, some players and even fans eventually joined him. He wasn’t telling people to pray with him and he wasn’t making others feel bad for not praying with him. All the praying was voluntary.
According to the Fox News article, “Liberty Institute has already laid the groundwork for a lawsuit against the school district – accusing them of religious discrimination.” Sasser said the school district is being “hostile towards Christianity.”
Leading schoolwide prayers have already been banned, including football games, and have been replaced with a moment for silence. Kennedy wasn’t performing this schoolwide prayer.
He was only praying amongst himself and any others who wanted to join. He wasn’t forcing his beliefs upon anyone.
When the U.S. was founded, it was considered taboo to not believe in anything. Times have changed, and it has become obvious the U.S. has people with a wide array of religious beliefs. Because of this, the most controversial debates in religion always seem to be about Christians “forcing their beliefs upon others.”
However, in this situation, this is not the case at all. According to Gallup’s poll in the article “In U.S., 77% Identify as Christians,” by Frank Newport, 77 percent of the adult population identified with a Christian religion in 2011.
It seems to me Christianity is being prosecuted for being the majority. I would never try to make anyone feel inferior or single them out for not believing what I do. However, the argument of “Stop forcing your religion on us,” is starting to sound a lot like “Stop believing in your religion because I don’t believe in that.”
An important part in the U.S. laws is to create an offense-free atmosphere, so everyone can get along as free citizens. The majority of people in the U.S. are Christians, therefore I can understand the feeling of being overpowered or forgotten, but that’s not how it is.
The U.S. is a safe and free place for all religions and beliefs, and it is a principle that must be protected, even in events as small as high school football games.