COMMENT: Is freedom of religion free?
By Reverend Dr. Martha C. Taylor, The Oakland Post
The late Fannie Lou Hamer said, “If I’m truly free, who can tell me how much of my freedom I can have today? That’s the question the U.S. Supreme Court wrestled with last week in the case of Joe Kennedy, who was fired by the Washington State School Board for praying on the 50 line. meters after the end of the high school football game.
Kennedy defended her position by saying the school board violated her rights to free speech and the freedom to practice her religion. Kennedy, a Christian, said he felt compelled to give thanks with a silent prayer at the end of each game.
In 2019, a federal appeals court ruled that the Washington state school board was right to fire coach Joe Kennedy for publicly praying. A Ninth Circuit judge said, “A coach’s duty to serve as a good role model requires that the coach refrain from any manifestation of religious faith – even when the coach is obviously not on duty.”
Where does freedom begin and end? Kennedy’s case has sparked controversy, landing in the Supreme Court last week to debate the extent to which a person can express their religious freedom in public spaces.
On June 25, 1962, the Supreme Court ruled that prayer in schools violated the First Amendment by constituting a religious establishment. The following year, the Court banned Bible readings in public schools for similar reasons.
Long before the Supreme Court’s decision in 1962 and the current Kennedy case, we remember a very dark period in the history of the United States; it was legal that enslaved Africans be prohibited from expressing religious freedom in any form, including reading, writing, and praying.
The late Dr. Albert J. Raboteau, an African-American scholar, gave meaning to what Africans had to endure to worship. The Silent Ports, known as the Invisible Church, was a secret place of worship built with tree branches in the deep woods away from the ears and sight of slave masters. The secret call to worship used codes. One of these codes was the spiritual “Steal to Jesus”. If enslaved Africans were caught worshiping, they were subjected to vicious beatings or could be murdered for exercising religious freedom.
During the secret service, the African preacher preached how God delivered the Hebrews from slavery to freedom. The ancestors believed and trusted that the same God who told Moses to go down to Egypt and let my people go was the same God who was going to set them free. Enslaved Africans practiced their African rituals knowing that the spirit of the ancestors was with them, encouraging them, that slavery was not their destiny. C. Eric Lincoln reminded us in the epic book “The Black Church in the African American Experience”, that “the term ‘freedom’ has found deep religious resonance in the lives and hopes of African Americans”.
Colin Kaepernick refused to represent the stars and stripes, national anthem. He said he did it to protest police shootings of African American men and other social injustices faced by black people in the United States. The Stars and Stripes is a lyrical prayer – “and this is our motto: ‘In God we trust.’
Kaepernick was punished for expressing his freedom by refusing to engage in what he considers hypocrisy. Is it time for a new national anthem? Near the rotunda of the Capitol, a room is reserved for prayer. In light of the controversy, should the prayer room be removed? In 2009, I gave the opening prayer as a guest chaplain for the United States House of Representatives which aired on CNN and other networks.
Can the opening prayer be eliminated? On April 17, 1952, President Harry Truman signed a bill proclaiming the National Day of Prayer into law in the United States. Will it be reversed? Tim Tebow would often kneel and pray at football games. Steph Curry has a line of tennis shoes with a Bible scripture, “I can do anything…”
Mrs. Hamer raised a critical question, how much of my freedom can I have today? Are you ready to fight for your faith?
In 2019, a federal appeals court ruled that the Washington state school board was right to fire coach Joe Kennedy for publicly praying. A Ninth Circuit judge said, “A coach’s duty to serve as a good role model requires that the coach refrain from any manifestation of religious faith – even when the coach is obviously not on duty.” Where does freedom begin and end? Kennedy’s case has sparked controversy, landing in the Supreme Court last week to debate the extent to which a person can express their religious freedom in public spaces.
Website tags and keywords:
Rev. Dr. Martha C. Taylor, Fannie Lou Hamer, United States Supreme Court, Joe Kennedy, fired by Washington State School Board, praying, 50 yard line, high school football game, Kennedy defended his position, school board, violated his free speech rights, freedom to practice religion, christian, thanks, silent prayer, conclusion of every game, federal appeals court, washington state school board was okay , Ninth Circuit judge, duty of coach, serve as a good role model, refrain from any manifestation of religious faith, obviously not on duty, sparked controversy, Supreme Court, how far can a person express the religious liberty, public spaces, prayer in schools, violated the first amendment, constituting an establishment of religion, bible readings prohibited in public schools, Supreme Court ruling, very dark time in US history ,