Coach Joe Kennedy has just suffered another blow in his years-long struggle for justice after being fired by the Bremerton School District for silently praying after football games.
Last Thursday, Federal District Court Judge Ronald Leighton granted the district’s motion for summary judgment in the case of Coach Joe Kennedy, effectively declaring that the school was within their rights to fire Kennedy.
Kennedy and First Liberty Institute, his legal representatives, plan to appeal the decision.
Kennedy was fired by the district back in 2015 for kneeling on the 50-yard line after football games and silently praying. Although his players were never made to participate, several of them voluntarily chose to join him. Soon, even opposing teams would unite in prayer after each game.
“I had some parents who said, ‘I don’t want my kid involved with that.’ And I respected that. That is their right as a parent,” Kennedy told CBN News in December. “It was never a forced thing. It was never an asked thing.”
Afraid that those prayers might indicate that the district was endorsing religion, the school reportedly told Kennedy, “You can choose between your faith and your job.”
According to CBN, the Supreme Court recently declined to reverse a previous decision by the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upholding Kennedy’s 2015 firing.
However, in a separate statement filed by Justice Alito and joined by Justices Thomas, Gorsuch, and Kavanaugh, the justices wrote, “the Ninth Circuit’s understanding of the free speech rights of public school teachers is troubling and may justify review in the future,” adding that more information was needed in order to resolve the matter.
The case then returned to the district court for further review, leading to Thursday’s unfavorable decision.
“We are disappointed in this decision, but we are undeterred in our mission to obtain justice for Coach Kennedy,” Berry said in a press release. “For almost five long years Joe has had to miss coaching the game he loves. Joe has fought—first as a U.S. Marine, then as a coach—to prove that every American has the right to engage in individual religious expression, including praying in public, without fear of getting fired. He knows this fight isn’t over.”
In spite of this setback, Kennedy continues to keep up the faith and the good fight for religious liberty in this nation. God bless him!
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