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Coach Joe Kennedy goes to the Supreme Courtroom and the media protection will get a B+ — GetReligion

I’ve additionally subbed for 3 Seattle-area college districts up to now 5 years and one factor I’ve discovered is that if right this moment’s breed of scholar is upset about something, she or he will complain about it. So, the utter lack of complaints about this coach over seven soccer seasons; the continuing good suggestions from Gillam, Kennedy’s supervisor over these years (and Gillam actually knew of those prayer huddles) instructed me the prayers — and the inspirational speeches from Kennedy that generally accompanied them — weren’t a problem for a number of years.

 However the district doesn’t need to speak about the way it was caught sleeping on the wheel. Nobody was complaining to them about Kennedy’s prayers. They discovered of his non secular actions accidentally and, scared of being sued, instructed the coach to knock it off.

A Slate story on the arguments, which was toxic to the purpose of being ridiculous, made out the coach as this nefarious monster forcing his beliefs on unwilling college students. Nevertheless, it raised one fascinating level about teaching basically based mostly on one justice serving as a coach in his off hours.

However one surprisingly piercing collection of questions from Justice Brett Kavanaugh minimize by way of many layers of deception to achieve the guts of the case: the profound but usually delicate stress on college students to take part at school prayer, even when doing so violates their very own religion…

A lot of the conservative justices ignored this side of the case. Kavanaugh, who moonlights as a coach himself, didn’t. 

Kavanaugh, according to the Chicago Tribune, coaches women basketball at native Catholic colleges in Maryland.

Halfway by way of arguments, he pressured Kennedy’s lawyer, Paul Clement, to deal with it immediately, asking: “What concerning the participant who thinks, if I don’t take part on this, I gained’t begin subsequent week? Or the participant who thinks, if I do take part on this, I will begin subsequent week?”

Clement responded that the varsity may concern “a transparent message that that’s inappropriate,” however Kavanaugh pushed again. “How will you ferret that out?” the justice requested. “As a result of each participant’s attempting to get on the nice facet of the coach. And each father or mother is nervous concerning the coach exercising favoritism by way of the beginning lineup, taking part in time, suggestions for schools, and so on.”

The most effective Clement may supply was a bromide: “If any coach or instructor does it, disgrace on them and they need to be punished.”

A few of the higher tales on the market put Kennedy into the context of his environment. Regardless of Bremerton’s small-town ambiance and conservative bent because of the presence of a naval base in its midst, it’s one of many least-churched elements of the ultra-blue Washington state. Kennedy was not praying up a storm at a college within the Deep South.

Lively warships homeport in Bremerton, together with the united statesS. Nimitz plane provider. Up Hood Canal from Bremerton is Naval Base Kitsap at Bangor, house to eight nuclear submarines, seven of that are armed with nuclear weapons, making the realm the world’s third-largest atomic arsenal. So if Russia ever decides to nuke the West Coast, the missiles would hit Bremerton and the Kitsap peninsula first.

In the event you go to Bremerton, you may’t miss the army statues, parks and nomenclature all over the place. An ESPN story did a great job of explaining the grittiness of the realm and included sports-specific particulars, naturally from a reporter who traveled to Bremerton.

Kennedy sued, and over the previous seven years his case has wound its means from this blue-collar, army city throughout the Puget Sound from Seattle to the U.S. Supreme Courtroom. The case thrust Kennedy, a former Marine who solely reluctantly signed on to assist coach a mediocre highschool soccer staff, into what authorized analysts see as doubtlessly probably the most consequential circumstances in recent times testing the separation of church and state.

The query earlier than the Supreme Courtroom is whether or not Kennedy’s on-field prayers are protected by the First Modification’s assure of non secular liberty, or whether or not they violate the First Modification by selling his faith. …

Many authorized observers say it’s possible that the Supreme Courtroom will rule in Kennedy’s favor, given its current deference to non secular liberty. However the case’s bigger impression will activate whether or not the justices view Kennedy’s prayers as non-public expressions of thanks or public spectacles. Their choice may loosen authorized restrictions on how lecturers and different workers can categorical their religion in public colleges.

As I started researching the story earlier than driving to Bremerton in early March, it was clear I used to be following a fancy historical past that was greater than six years previous and concerned a transient army group. Youngsters who knew Kennedy as a coach and will testify whether or not they felt pressured into becoming a member of his prayer circle have been not round.

Native media, such as the South Kitsap Sun, had written fairly a bit about Kennedy on the time, so I may draw on their reporting about Kennedy’s reasonably messy private life.

Now Kennedy and his attorneys (who accompanied me the day I used to be there) didn’t convey up a few of these particulars — or Kennedy was a tad imprecise after I requested him why his current church appeared to be lacking from this battle. Later, I known as Holy Trinity, a Catholic church that Kennedy and his spouse had a slight connection to years earlier than, and so they refused to speak.

There have been some gaps on this story, and it was apparent that the coach and his authorized staff from First Liberty Institute — who had video and plenty of images on the prepared — have been managing the narrative for me and the stream of reporters interviewing Kennedy that week. This type of factor will not be uncommon.

Apparently the varsity district didn’t find out about these back-to-back press visits till the final minute, which is when Individuals United for Separation of Church and State swung into motion. Because the authorized agency representing the district, they threw collectively a coalition of clergy and a neighborhood father or mother who knew Kennedy to current their facet of the story.

However the clergy I talked with have been both new to city or their small congregations had no members who had been impacted by Kennedy’s actions from 2008-2015.  The father or mother had rumour about native residents being sad about Kennedy, however apparently his personal son — who was on Kennedy’s staff in 2010 -– suffered no ailing results.

Reporters have been being fed narratives from each side, each of which picked and selected which particulars to incorporate and which to go away out. I noticed some media castigate Kennedy for making himself out to be a saint-like mentor to younger soccer gamers whereas failing to criticize the district and its staff for creating an overblown account of the horrible hurt wrought by this identical coach.

Additionally they blasted Kennedy for going to the media and native politicians. Admit it: In the event you have been a retired Marine on a army pension, wouldn’t you scramble for assist wherever you might discover it? These are the sorts of video games each side play, and journalists can’t get caught up in them.

Hopefully the excessive court docket will set up new precedent by explaining how the institution clause of the First Modification ought to play out at school settings. The 2 attorneys — not associated to the case — that I interviewed after the listening to each hoped that the Courtroom can be decisive and clear in nevertheless it guidelines.

I’m glad the justices took Kennedy’s scenario severely. As I’ve been following this case, I’ve been questioning the place the large take-out story is. The place is that 8,000-word narrative piece this matter deserves in publications just like the The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Harper’s and different magazines? Had Kennedy been aside from a white male with a army background, would the MSM have devoted time and house to his case?

Everyone knows the reply, don’t we?

IMAGES: Courtesy of First Liberty Institute

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