Religious freedom is a core American value. The First Amendment grants us the freedom to believe as we choose, with respect for the autonomy of others to do the same. For decades, the Supreme Court has upheld this right in our schools – both by protecting students’ religious freedom and preventing the use of public funds for religious activities. But recent changes to the court have presented an opportunity for the Religious Right to overturn decades of settled law.
In Kennedy v. Bremerton, Students’ Religious Freedom is at Stake
On Friday, April 1st, 2022, Interfaith Alliance joined a broad coalition of religious organizations in submitting an amicus brief to the Supreme Court in the case Kennedy v. Bremerton. In this case, students repeatedly felt pressured by their football coach to participate in public prayer. After the coach refused accommodations that would allow for his religious practice while protecting students’ religious freedom, Bremerton school district placed the coach on administrative leave.
The Courts Must Protect Students and the First Amendment
Public schools should be open and welcoming to all students, regardless of background or belief, and it is up to teachers and staff to set the tone. Coach Kennedy took advantage of his position to push his own religious practices on players and their families. In this brief, Interfaith Alliance supports the actions of the Bremerton school district which prioritized the rights, safety, and well-being of its students.
No student should ever be made to feel excluded—whether in the classroom or on the football field—because they don’t share the religious beliefs of their coaches, teachers, or fellow students. It is our hope that the court will protect the religious freedom rights of students by respecting long-standing precedent.
Learn more about Interfaith Alliance’s efforts to strengthen public schools.