Brave Christian Football Coach Suspended, Can Spend All Day Talking With God Now
I'm really more of a Rams fan ...
The Great Jesus Sportsball War continues in Washington, where Bremerton High School administrators have placed assistant football coach Joe Kennedy on paid administrative leave for ignoring multiple requests that he stop leading players in prayer at the 50-yard line following games.
The foofaraw over the coach's devotional display took a decidedly silly (and awesome) turn earlier in the week, when several students invited Seattle members of the Satanic Temple, our favorite group of Establishment Clause trolls, to protest the on-field prayers and offer their own invocation as well. Following his suspension, coach Kennedy attended Thursday night's game as a civilian and prayed in the stands with other believers. The Satanists showed up, but stayed outside the venue to avoid disrupting the game. Neither Jesus nor Satan were observed in attendance at the football game, although some said they saw the Jester on the sidelines in a cast.
Bremerton School District explained in a letter to Kennedy Thursday that it was required by "lawful and constitutionally-required directives” to comply with the First Amendment's restrictions on civic endorsements of religion. Yes, even if it's a f'ball coach who started praying for both teams after the game all on his own and then students started voluntarily joining him in a public expression of faith:
“While attending games may be voluntary for most students, students required to be present by virtue of their participation in football or cheerleading will necessarily suffer a degree of coercion to participate in religious activity when their coaches lead or endorse it,” the district said in the letter.
Kennedy remains employed by the school district for the rest of his contract as JV coach and assistant varsity coach, but he will be barred from working "in any capacity" with the teams unless he agrees to comply with the district's guidelines. Apart from telling the Seattle Times, "I’m willing to take this all the way to the end," Kennedy would not comment on his suspension, referring all questions to his attorney from the Texas-based Liberty Institute, which plans to sue the school district for infringing Kennedy's religious freedom.
The Satanic Temple was invited to attend the game by a group of students that included obvious troublemaker and senior class president Abe Bartlett, whose name and dialogue appear to have been scripted by Aaron Sorkin, not that there's anything wrong with that:
"The main reason I did it is to portray to the school district that I think we should either have a policy that we're not going to have any religious affiliation or public religious practices, or they should say people are going to be allowed to practice their religion publicly whatever their beliefs," the 17-year-old said Wednesday.
"They need to either go black or white," Bartlett said, noting that the issue has become a topic of discussion in his government class. "I don't think this controversial middle ground is what our school needs."
OK, we take it back. Sorkin would have made it snappier yet more preachily progressive.
Roughly a dozen Satanic Temple members gathered outside the football field, most wearing hooded black robes and looking very goffik. A small crowd of good Christian students attending the game "climbed the fence, shook it, held up crosses, threw liquid, and chanted 'Jesus.' Some yelled at the Satanists to go away."
Professional Victimized Christian and reputed pee enthusiast Todd Starnes wrote at Fox News about how outrageous and oppressive the school's actions are, because apparently there are no places in Bremerton to pray other than at the 50-yard line of a high school football game. According to Starnes, "It’s unconscionable that a progressive school district would advocate shoving people back into a closet." Despite that very witty play on discrimination against gays, the line strikes us as pretty appropriate, given the King James version of the admonition in Matthew 6:6 to avoid showy displays of faith:
But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.
So we really have to ask Mr. Starnes what he thinks is so unconscionable about the Book of Matthew. Isn't the Bremerton School District simply giving coach Kennedy the opportunity to both uphold the Constitution and to be a better Christian?
Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.