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High school football coach scores win at Supreme Court

Putman County players, cheerleaders, students, and parents gather for prayer after the Friday night game (Sept 17, 2021), after the school board prohibited teachers and coaches from leading prayer after games. Credit: Twitter capture

The US Supreme Court has just ruled in favor of a Washington high school football coach, Joe Kenney, who was fired by Bremerton School District for praying alone on the 50-yard-line after a high school football game.

He was fired because his brief, but solitary, prayer, which could be viewed by players, was deemed to be ‘government speech’ and violated the separation of church and state.

In a 6-3 ruling, the Supreme Court ruled that it wasn’t and the firing was a violation of freedom of speech guaranteed under the constitution.

Fox News explains:

Here, a government entity sought to punish an individual for engaging in a brief, quiet, personal religious observance doubly protected by the Free Exercise and Free Speech Clauses of the First Amendment. And the only meaningful justification the government offered for its reprisal rested on a mistaken view that it had a duty to ferret out and suppress,” Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote in the Court’s opinion. “Religious observances even as it allows comparable secular speech. The Constitution neither mandates nor tolerates that kind of discrimination.”

Fox News added that Kennedy, who was hired in 2008, started praying before the game and was eventually joined by a few of the football players. Kennedy used this as a time, which included religious messages, to motivate his players.

It became a problem after a coach for an opposing team reported this behavior.

Kennedy agreed to stop, and the school gave Kennedy the option of praying alone on the 50-yard line after everyone had left. However, when Kennedy decided to pray alone while players were still on the field, the school suspended Kennedy before eventually releasing him.

READ: High school football coach scores big win at Supreme Court over post-game prayer

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