Missouri Family E-News

October 27, 2015

        
High School Football Coach:
"I'll Keep Praying"


A high school football coach in the state of Washington may lose his job over his practice of praying at midfield at the conclusion of each football game.

Joe Kennedy is an assistant coach of the high school football team at Bremerton High School in the Seattle area.  For years he has taken a knee at the 50 yard-line after the final whistle to thank God for the efforts of his players and for their safety.  Kennedy says he was inspired to do so after watching the popular movie "Facing the Giants." 

Now Kennedy has been ordered by the school district superintendent to halt the practice.  Superintendent Aaron Leavell provided Kennedy with a three-page letter threatening him with dismissal if he continues his on-field prayers.

"While on duty as an assistant coach, you may not engage in demonstrative religious activity, readily observable to...students and the attending public," the letter states.

"Your talks with students may not include religious expression, including prayer," the letter continues.  "They must remain entirely secular in nature, so as to avoid alienation of any team member."

"Any further violations will be grounds for discipline, up to and including discharge from District employment," the letter concludes.

Washington State Schools Superintendent Randy Dorn also took issue with Kennedy's actions.  Dorn says Kennedy's conduct could be seen as "exclusionary" and be "distressing" to some of the players.  He went so far as to suggest that Kennedy was a poor role model for his players.

Kennedy, who served as a combat veteran in the Marines, says he will continue to offer prayers after his team's games.  "I spent twenty years in the military fighting to defend the Constitution.  All of a sudden I realize that people who work for the public schools don't have the same constitutional rights as everybody else has." 

"I'm not a guy who hides in a corner and does a secret prayer to God.  I'm very open about my faith everywhere I go.  I'm standing up for what I believe is right.  I'm going to keep on praying."

Kennedy did just that after the team's game on Friday night, October 16th, which was the school's homecoming.  He urged his players to stay on the sidelines so he could not be accused of coercing them to pray with him.

When he opened his eyes following his post-game prayer, he found himself surrounded by the opposing team and their fans, who joined him in the prayer time.

Kennedy has decided to take the school district to court to protect his constitutional right to the free exercise of religion.  He is demanding that school officials provide him with the same kind of religious accommodations that the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld for other employees with religious convictions.

Hiram Sasser, legal counsel for the Liberty Institute, says that the school district's policy is a blatant example of unconstitutional government hostility to religion.

"When you tell a coach that he cannot silently pray at the 50 yard-line, there's no greater message of hostility than that.  This is not a school being neutral.  This is a school being hostile to religion--and we are going to hold them accountable."

Tony Dungy, the highly regarded former NFL coach and now football commentator, applauded Joe Kennedy's courage.  "I appreciate Coach Kennedy staying true to his convictions.  Glad I never faced anything like this in my career."

You can sign a letter of support to Coach Kennedy by using this link:
Support Coach Kennedy
 
  

Listen to the Broadcast Version of the Jeff City Update online at 
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Christian Couple Faces Loss of Property
over Stand for Faith
 
Oregon state officials are threatening to seize the property and assets of a Christian couple who declined to decorate a "wedding cake" for a same-sex union ceremony.  Officials with the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries say they are prepared to enforce an administrative judgement against Aaron and Melissa Klein.

The Kleins are the owners of a bakery known as Sweet Cakes by Melissa in Gresham, Oregon.  They are the target of a complaint filed in 2013 by a lesbian "couple" who had requested that the shop bake a cake for their "wedding" celebration.  The Kleins declined the order, saying that their religious convictions would not allow them to support or assist a ceremony that is sinful in the eyes of God.

Earlier this year the Bureau of Labor and Industries ruled that the Kleins had violated the state's "public accommodations" statute.  That law prohibits any business from discriminating against a customer based on so-called "sexual orientation" or "gender identity."  BOLI Commissioner Brad Avakian imposed an outrageous and obscene fine of $135,000 against the Kleins, which was upheld by a state administrative law judge.

The Kleins have refused to pay the fine, and now officials of the state labor agency say they will "docket the judgement" so they can "explore collection options."  A state court can place a lien on the Kleins' house, property, and other assets to satisfy the fine that has been assessed.

The cruel and crushing fine imposed against the Kleins was based on alleged "emotional, mental, and physical suffering" experienced by the lesbian "couple."  They claimed they had been "mentally raped" because of the Kleins' decision, and had endured 88 different negative symptoms, including "high blood pressure, impaired digestion, weight gain, and an acute loss of confidence."

The true emotional damages in this case have been suffered by Aaron and Melissa Klein.  They were forced to shut down their retail business following an ugly and raucous boycott waged by homosexual activists against their business and their suppliers and vendors.  Their company van was broken into and vandalized.  Their family was subjected to hateful and vicious verbal attacks and threats which are too ugly to print here. Aaron was forced to take a job as a garbage collector to help the family make ends meet.

The brutal treatment of the Kleins by Oregon labor standards officers has been anything but an impartial affair.  The Daily Signal discovered that Brad Avakian is a generous supporter of Basic Rights Oregon, the state's leading homosexual rights lobbying group, a scandalous conflict of interest.  The Daily Signal also learned that Avakian consulted regularly with the Basic Rights group in determining the fine to be assessed against the Kleins, which is a gross miscarriage of justice.

Yet Avakian's malicious personal crusade against the Kleins is not finished.  He has issued a subsequent order demanding that Aaron and Melissa "cease and desist" from making any statements reflecting their beliefs about the immorality of homosexual relationships.  Avakian has warned that the Kleins will be liable for any further "resultant emotional suffering" experienced by the lesbian "couple."
Despite the Stalinist behavior of Oregon authorities, Aaron Klein says that he is not about to give up his constitutionally protected freedom of speech.  "We continue to believe that all Americans should be free to live their faith at home and in the work place without fear of being punished by the government."

"We will not be silenced," Klein added.  "We will fight with everything we have.  We are Christians and we believe in the Bible and that's who we are.  We are here to obey God, not man, and we will not conform to this world.  We will not relent.  For this to go this far is ridiculous.  It should scare every American."

Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council, says the persecution of Aaron and Melissa Klein is only the beginning of a fresh struggle for the basic freedoms of Christians in America.  "This gag order demonstrates that this assault on our most essential freedoms will  not stop with free exercise of religion.  It has quickly become a threat to the freedom of speech as well.  A government capable of bankrupting and silencing people for standing by their deepest beliefs is a government that is a threat to everyone's freedom."

It is clear that the people of Missouri stand with the Kleins in their battle against religious intolerance.  In a survey conducted by the Remington Group, Missourians were asked whether they believed that the government should be able to force a baker or a florist to provide services for a same-sex "wedding" if it violated their religious beliefs.  65 percent said no.  Only 25 percent said yes.

It is also clear that many Americans are willing to stand with the Kleins, and to open their pocketbooks to do so.  A GoFundMe account raised $109,000 for the Kleins' legal defense.  When GoFundMe shut down the account after complaints from the "gay rights" lobby, a new fundraising account was set up for the Kleins with a similar crowdfunding site called Continue To Give.   More than $400,000 has been raised for the Klein Family there.

The Kleins are appealing the Bureau of Labor ruling to the Oregon Court of Appeals.  Please continue to pray for them.  You can send a message of support at melissa@sweetcakesweb.com

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