Sunday, November 01, 2015

The 3 - November 1, 2015

In this week's edition of my week-in-review feature, The 3, I shine the spotlight on an incident in a Texas school district, which has apologized for an assignment in which the affirmation of God's existence was counted as incorrect.  Also, the religious expression of a football coach in Washington state continues to be restricted.  And, some news out of China, where all families will be allowed to have two children, in an improvement over the one-child policy that has been in effect there.

3 - Texas school district apologizes for assignment asking students to deny God

In Katy, Texas, a seventh-grader was placed in a rather odd position recently.  According to a piece on the Religion News Service website, Jordan Wooley said she answered a question on an assignment, saying that the phrase, “there is a God," was either fact or opinion. She contended that her reading teacher said both her answers were wrong and that she had to admit God wasn’t real.

Jordan is quoted as saying, “It was really confusing to me at first because I didn’t really know what to do, so the first thing I did was tell my mom.” Her mother, Chantel Wooley, said, “That a kid was literally graded against her faith in God in a classroom."

According to the RNS piece, the school district apologized, and it issued a statement on Tuesday, saying, in part, that the assignment was intended to encourage critical thinking and dialogue and not question any student’s religious beliefs. But the statement also said, "Still this does not excuse the fact that this ungraded activity was ill-conceived and because of that, its intent had been misconstrued."  The school district said the teacher who came up with the assignment is distraught and that it’s crucial not to vilify the teacher without knowing her and her Christian faith.

2 - Football coach in Washington state placed on leave after postgame prayers

The unfortunate series of events concerning Bremerton, Washington, assistant varsity football coach Joe Kennedy continued this week.  On Wednesday, the school district issued a four-page letter, according to, that announced that the coach, who had a practice of praying on the 50-yard ilne following games, had been placed on paid leave. The letter stated, in part, that, “Kennedy’s conduct poses a genuine risk that the district will be liable for violating the federal and state constitutional rights of students or others,” and, “For this reason, Kennedy will not be allowed to further violate the district’s directives.”

The story reported that Superintendent Aaron Leavell acknowledged that “[e]ach activity has been voluntary” and that Kennedy has not “actively encouraged or required participation,” but he asserted that the practices were still unconstitutional. He laid out rules so that the district would decrease its chances of a lawsuit, stating that while Kennedy may engage in religious activity, “students may not be allowed to join such activity.”

Kennedy agreed to discontinue locker room prayer, but his attorneys with the Texas-based Liberty Institute stated that he has done nothing wrong in seeking to pray by himself at the conclusion of each game. The attorneys said there is neither any constitutional violation in permitting students to join.

And, this week, as reported by, the directors of the film, Woodlawn, Jon and Andy Erwin, released a video showing Kennedy talking about his experiences, as well as his thoughts about the movie, which depicts the story of future Miami Dolphin Tony Nathan.

Kennedy is shown praying with fans in the stands after his team's Thursday night game, and said, "You put four years of your life into the kids and you miss it because of having to stand up for your faith." He continued: "Has it been worth it? Absolutely. I tell my kids you never quit. You stand up for what you believe in," adding, "It's about the rights of every single person, no matter what their faith is."

The film depicts a Christian revival that took place at a high school in the midst of racial turmoil in Birmingham in the 1970's.  The film shows the coach of the team being baptized and facing opposition because of his desire to express his faith publicly. Box Office Mojo shows that the film has now exceeded $10 million dollars.  This past weekend was its third in release.

The series of events has even attracted attention of Presidential candidates, according to the Seattle Times, which reported that Dr. Ben Carson and Donald Trump had both tweeted out support for the coach.

1 - China changes its "one-child" policy

There is apparently some news out of China that represents an improvement in the area of life. The nation's policy of allowing urban families to have only one child and for rural families to have two children is coming to a close, according to a report on the website, which quotes from, which cites a report from China’s official news service. The new policy allows two children per family.

Rep. Chris Smith, a pro-life member of Congress, is quoted as saying: “In 1980 the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party sent an open letter to party members setting forth its plan to embark on a national one-child policy." The Congressman added, “What came out of that letter? A cruel and inhumane policy, a human rights violation that is, in scope and seriousness, the worst human rights abuse in the world today. No other government policy anywhere else in the world systematically punishes, abuses, and violates women so grossly as this.”  Smith also said, "The policy required women to obtain a birth permit before becoming pregnant and all women are monitored by “crudely invasive physical check-ups.”

Life News reports that China aborts more than 13 million babies each year.   

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