FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 27, 2022
Manisha Sunil, West End Strategy Team
[email protected]; (202) 417-0171
SCOTUS Ruling Dismantles Promise of Religious Freedom For Students, Says Interfaith Alliance
The Court’s ruling in Kennedy v. Bremerton opens the door for coercive prayer in public schools
WASHINGTON–No student should ever be made to feel excluded in the classroom – but that’s exactly what the Supreme Court’s ruling today in Kennedy v. Bremerton School District allows for, say religious freedom advocates. Katy Joseph, director of policy & advocacy at Interfaith Alliance, released the following statement:
“Public schools should be open and welcoming to all, regardless of background or belief. And since 1962, the Supreme Court has consistently recognized that school prayer is coercive, undermining the religious freedom rights of students who feel pressured to participate. Yet today’s decision dismantles decades of progress.
“Exploiting his position of authority, coach Joseph Kennedy pushed players to participate in prayer in the middle of the field immediately after games. This was no private expression of devotion, as he and his lawyers claim. Instead, Mr. Kennedy forced students to choose between their religious freedom and being part of the team – an agonizing decision that no student should ever be forced to confront.
“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. The First Amendment protects the right of all Americans to believe as we choose without fear of government coercion. In spite of this ruling, Interfaith Alliance will continue to advocate at the local, state, and national levels to strengthen our public schools and ensure all students, regardless of faith and belief, are respected and protected from discrimination.”
Interfaith Alliance has long warned of the dangers of allowing coercive prayer in public schools. In April, the organization filed an amicus brief in support of Bremerton School District alongside a broad-based coalition of religious organizations.
If you are interested in connecting with Katy Joseph, please contact Manisha Sunil at [email protected] or (202) 417-0171.
Interfaith Alliance celebrates religious freedom by championing individual rights, promoting policies that protect both religion and democracy, and uniting diverse voices to challenge extremism. Founded in 1994, Interfaith Alliance brings together members from 75 faith traditions as well as those without a faith tradition to protect faith and freedom. For more information visit www.interfaithalliance.org.