SUPREME COURT SIDES WITH FOOTBALL COACH WHO WANTED TO PRAY ON FIELD

The Supreme Court handed a big win to a former Washington high school football coach who lost his job over reciting a prayer on the 50-yard line after games.

The issue was whether a public school employee praying alone but in view of students was engaging in unprotected “government speech,” and if it is not government speech, does it still pose a problem under the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause? The Supreme Court ruled Monday in a 6-3 decision that the answer to both questions is no.

Joe Kennedy was a junior varsity head coach and varsity assistant coach with the Bremerton School District in Washington from 2008 to 2015. He began the practice of reciting a post-game prayer by himself, but eventually, students started joining him. According to court documents, this evolved into motivational speeches that included religious themes. After an opposing coach brought it to the principal’s attention, the school district told Kennedy to stop. He did, temporarily, then notified the school that he would resume the practice.

The situation garnered media attention, and when Kennedy announced that he would go back to praying on the field, it raised security concerns. When he did pray after the game, a number of people stormed the field in support.

The school district then offered to let Kennedy pray in other locations before and after games, or for him to pray on the 50-yard line after everyone else had left the premises, but he refused, insisting that he would continue his regular practice. After continuing the prayers at two more games, the school district placed Kennedy on leave.

FULL STORY HERE