A coach fired for praying after football games gets his day in court today. Coach Joe Kennedy of Bremerton, Washington, not only has a powerful legal team on his side, but he also has NFL Hall of Famer (and former Congressman) Steve Largent lending his support.
Washington’s Bremerton School District suspended Kennedy in 2015. A retired Marine and a Christian, Kennedy prayed at the 50-yard-line after every game. It’s something he began at the start of his coaching job in 2008. Over time, players voluntarily joined in.
“He never received any complaints,” Berry previously told The Stream. “Someone from the opposing team’s school saw the practice and complimented the school … which caused the school to investigate the situation.”
The district told Kennedy to stop praying in September 2015. The superintendent claimed that Kennedy violated the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause. He worried that the prayers exposed the school district to “significant risk of liability.” According to First Liberty, Kennedy’s prayers were “constitutionally protected.”
Kennedy requested a religious accommodation. The request was denied. After a game that October, Kennedy prayed on the field anyway. He was then suspended. In 2016, the district did not renew his contract.
Photo courtesy: First Liberty Institute