A Washington state high school football coach made it a game day ritual to take a knee and pray. Now a federal court bans the coach from doing so.
It was ruled by a three-judge panel on the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that since Joseph Kennedy is a public employee he is not allowed to outwardly pray while he is performing his job.
Here is how part of the decision read:
When Kennedy kneeled and prayed on the fifty-yard line immediately after games while in view of students and parents, he spoke as a public employee, not as a private citizen, and his speech therefore was constitutionally unprotected.
Kennedy was a football coach at the school form 2018 to 2015. While the coach he would lead the team in prayer on the field as well as in the locker room. He would also take a few minutes by himself to drop to a knee and pray on the 50-yard line at the end of every game.
Initially it was the school district who objected to the prayer. They stated that employees of the state are not allowed to endorse any single religion.
Kennedy responded by asking for a religious exemption, which would be granted under the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Once this was established he was permitted to pray on the 50-yard line after all of the parents and players had left the facility.
Coach Kennedy followed this process for a while, but eventually reverted back to taking a knee with others present.
By kneeling down for prayer this garnered national attention, some of it unwanted, to the school district. Because of this they decided not to renew his contract in 2015 when it expired.
Former #Bremerton HS Asst Football Coach Joe Kennedy suing to get job back. He was let go after praying on field. pic.twitter.com/RxxmooXba7
— Jennifer Sullivan (@SeattleSullivan) August 9, 2016
Coach Kennedy brought this case to court. He felt as if his First Amendment rights were being violated. Just now the decision was upheld.
Despite this ruling don't look for the prayer controversy to go away anytime soon. There are already loads of religious activists looking to appeal and get this ruling overturned.
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