Joe Kennedy, an assistant high school football coach in the Seattle-area, was suspended from coaching last week after he continued to pray with his players on the field, despite having been told multiple times not to. Reverends Irene Monroe and Emmett Price joined Boston Public Radio for another edition of All Revved Up to discuss Kennedy’s suspension and the plight of the Black Hebrew Israelites to be excepted as Jews.

Questions are paraphrased, and responses are edited where noted [...].

Do you think that Joe Kennedy should have been suspended for conducted post game prayers with his players?

Price: This is a local situation and should not have risen up to that level. You know I go both ways, I appreciate the fact that he had the comradery with his players to go out to the middle of the field and pray with the players, but again you have to follow the rules so he probably should not have done it, but I don’t think the punishment that’s coming down, I don’t think it fits that.

Monroe: I don’t go that way for a couple of reasons. One is that, listen there should be a clear demarcation between church and state. It’s wonderful that you want to praise your deity, but cleary it would have been an outrage if a Muslim came out and wanted to do it or a Wicken. So clearly, by not taking a position on that you are mandating a Christian dominance in our culture. Your ignoring that we are a pluralistic society and that we’re open and affirming to all faiths and no faiths.

I think it is a bigger problem than we like to give it. I am just disturbed. They way in which religion has shaken the landscape in terms of presidential elections. Obama is still perceived as a Manchurian Muslim. You have Hillary saying I’m a devote Methodist, you have trump saying I love the bible, I’m fed up with religion in that sense.

The Black Hebrew Israelites have been working to be excepted by the Jewish mainstream for over 40 years, but continue to be met with resistance when they are told they must convert to Judaism to be considered Jewish. Who are the Black Hebrew Israelites?

Monroe: They are the Jewish version of the Nation of Islam. They preach a black liberation theology as a matter of fact, they like the nation of Islam, are the first to do a black liberation theology where Jesus is portrayed as black….. The black Hebrews will tell you this, that the Israelites in the bible really were black, but do to what we would call today, gentrification, they were moved from the the wilderness over to the south side of Chicago and uptown to Harlem.

Price: I know Individuals in the California sect who traced their legacy back to the children of Noah. You can look at Cush or Ham and you can see that there is a lineage of these individuals and it absolutely makes sense because the children of Israel were in Egypt for a number of years while in exile. They were sharing their faith with other people who didn’t necessarily come with them along the journey and there has to be children of Israel who don’t necessarily look like the traditional phenotype and racial composition.

Why is asking them to convert to Judaism seen as resistance to their beliefs?

Price: It say’s that your practice is invalid unless you go through this system. Who gets to judge whether your really Jewish or not, whether your really Hebrew or not.

Listen above for more of BPR's interview with Irene Monroe and Emmett Price