June 27, 2022

Manisha Sunil, West End Strategy Team; (202) 417-0171

SCOTUS Ruling Dismantles Promise of Religious Freedom For Students, Says Interfaith Alliance
The Court’s ruling in Kennedy v. Bremerton opens the door for coercive prayer in public schools

WASHINGTON–No student should ever be made to feel excluded in the classroom – but that’s exactly what the Supreme Court’s ruling today in Kennedy v. Bremerton School District allows for, say religious freedom advocates. Katy Joseph, director of policy & advocacy at  Interfaith Alliance, released the following statement:

“Public schools should be open and welcoming to all, regardless of background or belief. And since 1962, the Supreme Court has consistently recognized that school prayer is coercive, undermining the religious freedom rights of students who feel pressured to participate. Yet today’s decision dismantles decades of progress.  

“Exploiting his position of authority, coach Joseph Kennedy pushed players to participate in prayer in the middle of the field immediately after games. This was no private expression of devotion, as he and his lawyers claim. Instead, Mr. Kennedy forced students to choose between their religious freedom and being part of the team – an agonizing decision that no student should ever be forced to confront.

“No student should ever be made to feel excluded—whether in the classroom or on the football field—because they don’t share the religious beliefs of their coaches, teachers, or fellow students. The First Amendment protects the right of all Americans to believe as we choose without fear of government coercion. In spite of this ruling, Interfaith Alliance will continue to advocate at the local, state, and national levels to strengthen our public schools and ensure all students, regardless of faith and belief, are respected and protected from discrimination.”

Interfaith Alliance has long warned of the dangers of allowing coercive prayer in public schools. In April, the organization filed an amicus brief in support of Bremerton School District alongside a broad-based coalition of religious organizations.

If you are interested in connecting with Katy Joseph, please contact Manisha Sunil at or (202) 417-0171.


Interfaith Alliance is a network of people of diverse faiths and beliefs from across the country working together to build a resilient democracy and fulfill America’s promise of religious freedom and civil rights not just for some, but for all. We mobilize powerful coalitions to challenge Christian nationalism and religious extremism, while fostering a better understanding of the healthy boundaries between religion and government. We advocate at all levels of government for an equitable and just America where the freedoms of belief and religious practice are protected, and where all persons are treated with dignity and have the opportunity to thrive. For more information visit