HS football coach will sue school district for refusing to allow him to pray after games
A high school football coach whose post-game ritual includes a short prayer at midfield will sue a Washington state school district for refusing to make a religious accommodation for his beliefs.
Coach Joe Kennedy, a veteran of both Iraq wars, was threatened with disciplinary action if he continued to kneel at midfield following each game and saying a prayer. The district cited the possibility that they would be sued as the reason for the ban.
After initially obeying the district, Kennedy changed his mind and continues to pray after games. The district informed him last week that they had refused a religious accommodation for his beliefs.
The district says in the letter that if he Kennedy wanted to discuss finding a private room to pray they could likely oblige him.
“To summarize: While on duty for the District as an assistant coach, you may not engage in demonstrative religious activity, readily observable to (if not intended to be observed by) students and the attending public,” the letter reads.
Kennedy is a Desert Storm and Desert Shield combat veteran who said he was inspired to pray after games by the Christian football movie “Facing the Giants.” After initially agreeing not to pray, he later changed his mind and decided to defy the district.
“I spent 20 years in the military fighting to defend the Constitution and it didn’t seem right that I wasn’t allowed to say a prayer with my guys after a football game was over,” Kennedy told TheDCNF earlier this month. “I’m standing up for what I believe is right.”
Berry pointed out that religious accommodations are nothing new and that recent cases have validated them. The Supreme Court ruled earlier this year that Abercrombie and Fitch must allow a female Muslim employee a religious accommodation to wear a head covering on the job, despite company policy prohibiting them. The Supreme Court also ruled this year that a Muslim inmate should be allowed a religious accommodation to grow a beard, despite the prison’s policy against them.
“I would think that if a federal prisoner is entitled to that religious accommodation then a high school football coach would as well,” Berry told TheDCNF.
Surely Berry is joking. Federal prisoners are due all sorts of accommodations compared to Christians. Subsuming religious convictions and principles to the will of the state – at least for Christians and Jews – appears to be on the rise, and the courts seem to be unwilling or unable to do much to help.
If the Little Sisters of the Poor can be forced to pay for contraception and abortion coverage, you know that religious liberty in America is in trouble. The bottom line is that there is nowhere believers can practice their faith in absolute safety except the privacy of their home and the church of their choice.
Beyond that, anyone who doesn't much like religion can object – and win.