DALLAS — In October, My Faith Votes proudly joined a coalition, led by former Vice President Mike Pence, urging the Supreme Court to hear a crucial case impacting religious freedom (Kennedy v. Bremerton School District).
On behalf of more than 70 organizations and individuals, an amicus brief was filed with the U.S. Supreme Court affirming that personal prayers are protected by the First Amendment and to claim otherwise would severely restrict the fundamental right to private religious speech and the freedom of speech for public officials.
In 2015, Football coach Joseph Kennedy was fired for praying on-field after games at Bremerton High School in Washington State. A recent Ninth Circuit decision ruling against the former coach is threatening to excise personal prayer from public life. Legal scholars interpreting the Ninth Circuit’s opinion list the following scenarios as among those that would be prohibited: a teacher bowing her head in silent prayer before lunch in the school cafeteria, a civilian employee at the Pentagon keeping the Qur’an visibly on her desk so that she can read it during her personal time and a teacher of Jewish faith wearing a yarmulke through the duration of each workday.
My Faith Votes shares the concern of the more than 70 allied organizations and individuals that the Ninth Circuit’s ruling would discourage public employees from engaging in constitutionally protected acts of personal religious practice.
My Faith Votes also recognizes the important precedent that this case may set for the future of religious freedom. “God intended prayer to be a direct and personal way to praise, make our requests known and deepen our relationships with our Creator," said Jason Yates, CEO of My Faith Votes. "By mislabeling prayer as anything other than a humble expression of our devotion and need for God, we threaten the very rights the Founding Fathers wished to protect in our Constitution.”
Standing in solidarity with coach Kennedy and the Constitution, My Faith Votes strongly recommends the court uphold their responsibility to “protect the ability of teachers and other government employees to express their protected First Amendment right to engage in private religious expression without fear of government retribution or Establishment Clause violation.”
Find a copy of the amicus brief here.
Find a copy of the press release from AAF here.
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