A public high school football coach in Washington state who was fired from this job for leading a post-match prayer is expected to be reinstated by the spring of 2023, online court documents have revealed, according to ABC News.
After Joe Kennedy lost his job, he took his case to the Supreme Court in June. The Supreme Court sided with Kennedy by a 6-3 vote.
“The constitution and the best of our traditions counsel mutual respect and tolerance, not censorship and suppression, for religious and nonreligious views alike,” Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote for the majority.
In a dissenting opinion, Justice Sonia Sotomayor stated that the ruling “sets us further down a perilous path in forcing states to entangle themselves with religion.” She was joined by Stephen Breyer and Justice Elena Kagan, CNN reported.
The Bremerton school district argued that Kennedy “made a spectacle” of delivering prayers and speeches, by inviting students to join him, and also attracted unwanted media attention.
Kennedy and his legal team at First Liberty Institute, who are a Texas-based Christian legal group, filed a lawsuit against Bremerton School District after he was suspended seven years ago over the midfield prayers his contract was not renewed. Kennedy maintains that his prayers were short, private individual acts of faith, which lasted less than a minute.
Kennedy had routinely prayed on the field after games for over seven years. Sometimes many students would join, other times, he would pray alone or with only one or two students.
“It was my covenant between me and God that after every game, win or lose, I’m going to do it right there on the field of battle,” Kennedy told ABC News.
He added, “This is a right for everybody. It doesn’t matter if you’re this religion or that religion or have no faith whatsoever. Everybody has the same rights in America.”
The school district said it “has a fundamental obligation to protect the rights of all of its students,” though the statement noted that no players had complained about the prayer sessions.
“It is very likely that over the years, players have joined in these activities,” the school district added, “because to do otherwise would mean potentially alienating themselves from their team, and possibly their coaches.”
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