Religious Freedom Wins: Washington School Must Rehire Praying Coach 

Jay Maxson | October 27, 2022
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It’s a great day in America when the Bill of Rights and religious freedom prevail over government hostility, censorship and suppression. It’s great for praying coach Joe Kennedy, who will return to work as a Bremerton, Wash., high school football coach within the next few months after previously getting fired for praying on the field after games. 

On June 27, the U.S. Supreme Court ended Kennedy’s seven-year legal battle by deciding Bremerton High School violated his right to pray on its football field when it fired him in 2015. A joint stipulation in court this week revealed that the school must reinstate the coach to his previous position with backpay on or before March 15, 2023. 

Kennedy was fired by the school over his post-game prayers at the 50-yard line. His legal battle His legal battle was “vying for the protection of traditionally Christian values amid the nation’s ongoing rejection of religious principles,” wrote Alexandro Avila, on the Outkick blog.  

That protection is the nation’s first liberty, the religious freedom promised by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Bremerton High School trampled on that amendment in Kennedy’s case, but that wrong has been righted. He filed a lawsuit against Bremerton High, but a district court ruled and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit both ruled against him. The case went all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court, where he finally received justice with a favorable 6-3 decision. 

This week’s release of a court document indicates Kennedy is entitled to “declaratory relief consistent with the Supreme Court’s opinion in this case, and that Bremerton School District ‘shall not interfere with or prohibit Kennedy from offering a prayer consistent with the Supreme Court’s opinion.’” 

Rob McKenna, former Washington attorney general, had complained that Coach Kennedy was encouraging football players to join him in on-field, post-game prayers. 

Related: Photo Of Coal Miner With His Son At UK Basketball Game Goes Viral

Supreme Court justice Neil Gorsuch wrote in the high court’s decision that, “The Constitution and the best of our traditions counsel mutual respect and tolerance, not censorship and suppression, for religious and nonreligious views alike. 

"Kennedy prayed during a period when school employees were free to speak with a friend, call for a reservation at a restaurant, check email, or attend to other personal matters. He offered his prayers quietly while his students were otherwise occupied. Still, the Bremerton School District disciplined him anyway.” 

Like Kennedy’s June victory at SCOTUS, the recent stipulation that he must be reinstated with back pay is a great triumph for religious freedom in America. 

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