If this is still America…..

Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) took to the Senate floor last Thursday to defend the right of assistant football coach Joe Kennedy of Bremerton High School to pray on the field after games.

The Bremerton School District put Coach Kennedy on paid leave last week because he refused to stop silently praying after every game–with players voluntarily joining him–as he has for the past seven years.

“According to the attorneys at the school, he was dismissed from his duties because last Friday night at the football game, he had the audacity to kneel down at the end of the game and silently pray at the 50-yard line when the game was over, when the school had instructed him that he was not to silently pray at the end of a game,” Lankford said on the Senate floor.

“To his defense, this is not brand new,” said Lankford. “Since 2008, this same coach, at the end of the games–each game–has had the habit of kneeling and praying at the 50-yard line after the kids have gone, after the game is over, to thank God for the safety of his kids.”

“But for some reason the Bremerton School District has determined this is completely unacceptable,” said the sentor. “Their perspective is that you can only have faith if no one sees it. They have literally set a new standard.”

“They are saying that if you are a school official, no one can see that you have faith because if anyone sees that you have faith, they will take that as the establishment of religion from the school district,” said Lankford. “That is a standard no court in America has set.

“That would mean any individual who is Jewish couldn’t wear a yarmulke if they were also a teacher,” the senator said. “That would mean anyone who is Muslim couldn’t wear a head scarf because clearly that is a visual display of faith. That would mean no teacher could bow their head and pray before their meal in the school lunchroom. That would mean no football coach could kneel down with 5 seconds to go in the game in, the fourth quarter, before their 16-year-old is about to kick a field goal. They would say: No, you can’t kneel down and pray on the sidelines.”

Sen. Lankford stressed that the coach was not compelling anyone to join him.

“This is not a situation where the coach was coercing his players to participate in a prayer or proselytizing his players while he was on school time,” he said. “He was simply kneeling down to pray, and for whatever strange reason the school district has put him on paid administrative leave and has started the process of firing the coach.”

The senator then noted that the U.S. Constitution protects the free exercise of religion–not the mere freedom to “worship” in some assigned space.