Religion divides people into various groups based on different belief systems. People may not agree on certain topics, but they should be able to express their beliefs freely.

In Seattle, Washington, Bremerton High School football coach Joe Kennedy was denied the right to freely express his religious beliefs. Since Bremerton is a public school, they had warned Kennedy that his actions were illegal, but he continued to pray, which led the school to place him on administrative leave.

Similar scenarios like this one have been happening throughout the states. According to Yahoo, the football coach of Tempe Preparatory Academy in Tucson, Arizona was suspended for praying with his team post-game. However, not all people are met with religious opposition. NFL quarterback Tim Tebow regularly gets down on one knee as a sign of genuflecting and practicing his Christian faith. He is not criticized, but rather respected for his openness in expressing his beliefs. It’s not fair how some people are punished for practicing their religion while others are supported. Everyone should receive the same support.

Since public schools are secular, openly practicing religion in any form is not supported. Parents and students in opposition of Kennedy’s prayers invited Satanists to attend Bremerton’s next football game. According to ABC, members of the Satanic Temple wore their ritual garments and had the intention of performing one of their rituals on the field while Coach Kennedy prayed. Although Satanism may not be as commonly practiced as other religions, they also have the right to openly express their beliefs. If we are going to defend Kennedy’s First Amendment right to express his religious beliefs, then despite the confrontational nature of inviting the Satanists, they should have as much freedom as Kennedy to practice their beliefs on the field.

As a Jesuit university, Fairfield provides an environment that welcomes the practice of any religion, though the Jesuits are Catholic society. If non-religious people or people associated with different religions can practice their faith at Fairfield, why can’t religious people practice their faith at public institutions? The same concept of differing beliefs is seen in both instances and should be accepted without controversy.

Kennedy’s refusal to stop praying is a lesson for his players to fight for what they believe in. According to ABC News, Kennedy was allowed to attend football games as a community member and was seen praying in the stands. I respect him for standing by his religion and not hiding his practice of it.

If Kennedy can pray in the stands, then what’s the difference if it’s on the field with his players or nearby in the stand? He’s praying in support of the team, not forcing his beliefs upon his players. The administration does not seem to be making a fair decision in this situation. Kennedy was not doing any harm, therefore his ban should be lifted. Every player, coach and team has their own post-game ritual. Prayer just happens to be Kennedy’s.

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-- Editor-in-Chief Emeritus-- English: Journalism/Creative Writing

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