S3, Ep. 21: Not solving a problem, but creating one: Dissecting the Kennedy v. Bremerton decision

Amanda and Holly explore the Supreme Court’s final church-state opinion of the term, which was unnecessary and troubling

Jul 7, 2022

The Supreme Court is sowing more confusion with its Kennedy v. Bremerton decision, ruling for a public school official and abandoning long-standing Establishment Clause protections in ways that harm the religious freedom rights of students. In our season three finale – and our first episode in front of a live audience – Amanda and Holly discuss the impact of this ruling, and they ponder just what, exactly, would actually constitute “coercion” for this Court. The Supreme Court did not overrule the previous school prayer cases with the decision, but it did gut some of the consensus that protects the religious liberty rights of everyone at public schools. In the second and final segment, Amanda and Holly look to the next Supreme Court term and BJC’s plans to continue its work defending faith freedom for all. 

The first segment of this episode was recorded in front of a live audience during the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship General Assembly in Dallas, Texas, on June 29, 2022. 

Segment 1: A six-justice majority upends settled law (starting at 06:07)

Season three of Respecting Religion won the “Best in Class” award for specialty programming from the Religion Communicators Council’s DeRose-Hinkhouse Awards

You can access BJC’s resources on the Kennedy v. Bremerton case by visiting BJConline.org/Bremerton, including BJC’s amicus brief in this case and previous podcasts on it. 

You can read the Bremerton opinion here, written by Justice Neil Gorsuch. Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s dissenting opinion includes photos of the prayer practice at issue (see pages 9 and 10 of the dissent, which are on pages 49 and 50 of the opinion PDF document).


Segment 2: It’s “game on” for BJC (starting at 30:09)

Watch the livestream of Holly and Amanda recording the first segment of this podcast during our workshop at the CBF General Assembly at this link.  

Holly and Amanda discussed this NPR story by Nina Totenberg: The Supreme Court is the most conservative in 90 years

Holly mentioned this article by Kelsey Dallas for Deseret News: The Supreme Court came together on religion this term. Then, it fell apart

Amanda mentioned our BJC Luncheon, which was held in Dallas on June 30, listening to Indigenous voices on faith freedom. You can watch a video of the program on our YouTube page

While the podcast is taking a break, BJC is not! Keep up with our work by subscribing to our email list at BJConline.org/subscribe and following us on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.

Respecting Religion is made possible by BJC’s generous donors. You can support these conversations with a gift to BJC