Schools as “religion-free zones”? | Voice

United States Constitution
The United States Constitution with flag background. |

The Supreme Court is considering a new case related to school prayer. This story began in 2015 when high school football coach Joe Kennedy took a knee in the middle of the field after a game and silently thanked God. Some of the players voluntarily joined him in this huddle.

Kennedy was fired for this act by his employer, Bremerton High School in Bremerton, Washington. He sued to get his job back.

Fox News reports, “The lower courts all ruled for the school. The United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit found that in kneeling and praying before students and parents, Kennedy “was speaking as a public employee, not as a private citizen, and that his speech was therefore not protected by the Constitution”.

Fox News quotes Rachel Laser, president of Americans United for Separation of Church and State: “No child attending a public school should have to pray for school sports.” But his defenders note that the coach was expressing his own public thanks – not forcing anyone else to participate in his prayer.

How dare he, secular authorities in Washington state and beyond argued, acknowledge Almighty God in front of all those students, parents and community members?

How dare Coach Kennedy do this in the state named after George Washington, who repeatedly acknowledged Almighty God – even the day he became our first president and participated in a two-hour Christian worship with the new leaders of the United States at St. Paul’s Chapel, where they received Holy Communion?

Coach Kennedy is closer to the ideals and practices of the founders than to his critics who assert a false “strict separation of church and state” – words that are found nowhere in the Constitution.

Coach Kennedy is represented by the Plano, Texas-based First Liberty Institute, which focuses on advocating for religious freedom in America. Their name comes from the fact that the first freedom enshrined in our nation’s Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments to the US Constitution, is religious freedom.

The First Amendment begins: “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of any religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. Historically, this meant that there would be no Church of America, as there is a Church of England. That is, there was to be no “established by law” Church at the federal level. Some states at the time had state churches.

Coach Kennedy advocates argue that the same men who gave us the First Amendment also gave us the Northwest Ordinance, which set out the pattern that future states across the country were to follow.

They write in this ordinance: “Religion and morals being necessary to the good government and to the happiness of humanity, the schools and the means of education will be forever encouraged. The founders did not want the schools to be “religion-free zones”.

Judge Darrell White, president of Retired Judges of America, once told me in an interview about church-state relations: “There is a separation of church and state, but it is not a separation between God and the government. It is a separation of the institution of the Church from the institution of the State.

James Madison, a key architect of the Constitution, wrote a document titled “Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments” in 1785. In it, he notes that because Christianity is of divine origin, it will stand on its own , without state aid.

Madison said: “While we affirm for ourselves freedom to embrace, profess and observe the religion which we believe to be of divine origin, we cannot deny equal freedom to those whose spirit has not yet yielded to the evidence which has convinced us. If this freedom is abused, it is an offense to God, not to man: it is therefore to God, not to man , which must be taken into account.

In other words, the state must not support the Church, and the federal government (sometimes called by the Founders the “general government”) does not interfere with the Church. Madison said in 1788: “There is not the shadow of a right in the general government to meddle in religion.

The mere idea of ​​a school official kneeling before God — not to protest our national anthem, but out of respect for our Creator — was enough for those on the left to try to destroy Coach Kennedy’s career. and prevent him from what he believes his calling is to coach high school football.

It would seem that the left cares about free speech and free speech when it comes to things the founders never dreamed of, like alternative sexualities and gender fluidity, but not for things explicitly protected in the Constitution like the free exercise of religion.

Jerry Newcombe, D.Min., is the executive director of Providence Forum, an initiative of D. James Kennedy Ministries, where Jerry also serves as senior producer and on-air host. He has authored/co-authored 33 books, including George Washington’s Sacred Fire (with Providence Forum founder Peter Lillback, Ph.D.) and What if Jesus had never been born? (with D. James Kennedy, Ph.D.). @newcombejerry

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