Supreme Court To Hear Appeal By Christian High School Football Coach Fired For Praying On The Field
Having obviously solved all of the rest of the world’s problems, the U.S. Supreme Court has decided it is going to hear an appeal by a Christian former high school football coach who was suspended for refusing to stop praying on the football field.
A decision on the case “could expand the religious rights of employees of public institutions,” according to Reuters.
The coach, Joseph Kennedy, served as assistant coach in Bremerton, Washington. Lower courts threw out his claims that the school district was violating his free speech and religious rights afforded to him by the U.S. Constitution.
Last year, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against Kennedy, who had been an assistant coach at Bremerton High School from 2008 to 2015.
As Reuters notes, the heart of the issue relies in whether, as a public employee, the coach’s religious devotion among players is government speech, which can be regulated under Supreme Court precedents or a private act, which can’t.
Kennedy has argued his prayers and speeches were private in nature and “not part of his official duties as coach”. The school district disagreed and said such speeches and prayers could be coercive. Some parents argued their children were feeling “forced” to participate when they may not have wanted to.
Rachel Laser, president of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said: “No child attending public school should have to pray to play school sports.”
Kelly Shackelford, president and CEO of First Liberty Institute, a conservative religious rights group helping to represent Kennedy, retorted: “No teacher or coach should lose their job for simply expressing their faith while in public. By taking this important case, the Supreme Court can protect the right of every American to engage in private religious expression, including praying in public, without fear of punishment.”
Tue, 01/18/2022 – 20:10