A lot of folks seemed to be pretty uncomfortable when I shared a link to a story about Joe Kennedy, an assistant football coach in Bremerton, WA being suspended after months of refusing to follow the district’s policies regarding public prayer on the fifty yard line after home games.
In short, I received a number of angry notes accusing me of being an “atheist extremist” who is trying to “take away religious freedoms.” Uhm… no. I was simply pointing out the following:
1. There are dozens of Christian churches in Bremerton.
2. There is only one mainstream public high school in Bremerton.
3. According to Jesus, the coach probably shouldn’t be praying in public anyway.
4. Coaches have a tremendous amount of influence and power over their players at that age (likely more than a player’s own parents) and players would do anything to please them.
5. There is plenty of time and space for “religious freedoms” in Bremerton, WA – but maybe not on school grounds while students are still in uniforms and a coach is still holding a clipboard with the starting roster for next week’s game. Heck, the school is *literally* surrounded by churches that would be happy to host post-game prayer vigils. (see image below)
I have to say, aside from giving the coach more than enough ample rope to hang himself than would likely be afforded to a secularist in a similar situation, I’ve been impressed with the school district’s eventual response to this particular coach’s crusade to be the next (self-made) victim of “religious persecution”…
It’s not rocket science, folks – not all high school football players are Christians and an authority figure at a public school shouldn’t have the right to implicitly pressure students to engage in religious activities on school grounds while under his authority. Can you imagine if the coach was leading students in a Muslim prayer, or helping them “get clear” with Scientology?
There is a fine line between a coach bowing his head in silent private prayer and… inciting students to partake in the fervor of “religious persecution” martyrdom when they feel their coach is being picked on (by the media that he invited). In short, the team has been doing really well this year, making it to the playoffs. Maybe instead of making the season about “religious freedoms” by seeking any open microphone, maybe, just maybe keep the focus on students and… football?
“Whenever you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who always love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues so that everyone can see them. But, whenever you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in secret. Also, don’t babble on and on as people of other religions always do.” – Jesus (Matthew 6:5-7)
Remember, folks – don’t blame me, it’s in the Bible!