Football Coach Prayer Case: Why Was Coach Kennedy Fired?
Joe Kennedy was dismissed in 2015 after refusing to cease reciting prayers on the field while serving as a public school coach. He told presenter Ainsley Earhardt, “The First Amendment is under siege, and someone has to speak up for it.”
“Stand up for your beliefs,” Kennedy said on “Fox & Friends,” and “hopefully we won’t have to have anybody else choose between their faith and their employment.”
The former high school football coach and his legal team claim the Bremerton School District in Washington State violated Kennedy’s First Amendment rights when he was ordered to stop praying on the field with the players.
On “Fox & Friends,” Hiram Sasser, executive general counsel for the First Liberty Institute, which is representing Kennedy, said, “We feel extremely sure we’ll be able to go to the Supreme Court and eventually get this reversed and restore coach Joe on the football field.”
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals declined to hear arguments challenging a district court judgment in favor of the school system. After refusing to cease saying prayers on the field in 2015, Kennedy was suspended and eventually fired.
The former coach began his post-game prayers by praying softly on the field alone, but he was eventually joined by players.
“I don’t think anyone was genuinely outraged at the time,” Kennedy told Earhardt. “Every school employee, particularly coaches, has the right to pray whenever they are not doing their official thing,” Sasser stated. “Coach Kennedy was doing just that.”
Kennedy said he hasn’t been working throughout the investigation and is “excited to go back on the football field.” Kennedy was never disciplined for silently praying on his own, according to the school, which hailed the court’s ruling.