Sunday, November 1, 2015

Religious Freedom Means All or None

Here's one more case where a Christian demanding special privileges has attracted the attention of The Satanic Temple, who continue to do good activist work in advancing the cause of real religious freedom, not the Poor Oppressed Christian version in which their religion is more equal than all the others. I'm at the point where I no longer believe that this incidents have anything to do with ignorance, as the concept that official recognition of religion must include all religions has been repeated over and over again in both the online and mainstream media.

So here's the latest. Joe Kennedy, a high school football coach in Washington, has refused to quit leading Christian prayers during games, despite complaints from students and orders from school district authorities. Since formal complaints have done no good, one of the students contacted the Seattle branch of The Satanic Temple, who promised to show up for the game and deliver a Satanic invocation following the game should Kennedy continue to lead prayers. All of this is completely legal - since Kennedy is leading Christian prayers, every other religion has the right to perform their own in the same context.

A student at Bremerton High School in Washington has asked the local Satanic Temple to deliver an invocation — and the semi-satirical devil worshipers told KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson they would show up. “We will be at Thursday’s game doing a postgame Satanic invocation on the field if Coach (Joe) Kennedy continues to pray,” said Lilith Starr, head of The Satanic Temple of Seattle. “We won’t step on the field if he is stopped or doesn’t pray.”

Bremerton High School coach Joe Kennedy has defied orders from school district officials to stop his tradition of leading team prayers. The school says the prayers violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, which prohibits public officials like Kennedy from promoting religion.

“School staff exercising their right to silently pray in private on their own is fine,” Washington state Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn said in the statement. “But leading a prayer isn’t. School officials are role models; leading a prayer might put a student in an awkward position, even if the prayer is voluntary. For students who don’t share the official’s faith, prayers the official’s public expression of faith can seem exclusionary or even distressing.”

I've pointed out many times that I favor the "All" approach rather than "None." If a Christian wants to lead a prayer I think that's great - so long as every other religion is given the same opportunities and access. As a spectator, I would rather see a diverse display of religious expression rather than nothing at all. Unfortunately, though, the problem there has been that the Poor Oppressed Christians are basically hopeless - they want their special privileges, and to their way of thinking if everyone is special than no one is.

Hopefully someone will record the "Satanic invocation" that the temple will performing and post it. I'm curious to see what they come up with, since their presentations usually turn out to be pretty amusing.

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