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Supreme Court Set To Tackle Case Of High School Football Coach Who Prayed With Players On The Field

Monday’s Supreme Court hearing will be in connection with a case concerning a high-school football coach, who conducted postgame prayers for his players.

It will significantly impact how the court looks at the school prayer and the separation of state and church.

Joe Kennedy, a football coach at Bremerton High School in Washington, had been praying at the 50-yard line since 2008 and was frequently joined – voluntarily – by players from his team as well as the opposing teams.

In 2017, The Political Insider reported that Kennedy had agreed to continue praying as he was not being questioned by officials.

“I really tried to meet with the school halfway with everything,” the coach said in an interview with Fox News at the time.  

“They didn’t want me to pray with the kids, and I said, ‘That’s fine. Your rules. But I’m not going to give up my beliefs just because it made somebody feel uncomfortable,’” he explained. “So I agreed that I would just do it by myself on the 50 alone, the way it first started out.”

RELATED: The 9th Circuit Rules that a Coach who Prayed Violated Constitution

Supreme Court to Hear Arguments Concerning Prayer and Football Coach

Seattle’s school district offers a new perspective on the events surrounding the quarterback coach and his prayers.

Kennedy was instructed by Bremerton High not to continue the practice. They claim that Kennedy, instead of continuing to pray quietly, orchestrated an extremely publicized effort in order to support his right to hold a religious demonstration during a school event. 

He reportedly defied the school’s order and was placed on administrative leave. Kennedy didn’t reapply to his job in 2015, after his contract expired.

The school claimed the prayers violated school policy that prohibited staff from encouraging students to engage in such activity and noted one athlete – an atheist – felt that not participating would negatively affect his playing time.

In 2017, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the school, ruling that prayer on a school’s football field was unconstitutional.

“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,” the 9th Circuit panel of judges wrote.

RELATED: Submitting to Government Doesn’t Mean Surrendering Constitutional Rights

‘Pretty Cool’

Remarkably, the entire conflict began when an opposing coach told the Bremerton High School principal that he thought it was “pretty cool” that the school allowed Kennedy to allow the prayer after the football coach asked if any opposing players wanted to join him.

Jay Sekulow (alliance to Trump) is leading the American Center for Law and Justice in backing Kennedy and suggesting that the Supreme Court correct the mistakes of the 1971 landmark ruling. Lemon v. Kurtzman.

The case established a legal test for gauging church-state separation under the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause.

While the idea of a separation between church and state was not meant to be used in schools, it is often cited even when atheists are most offended.

As a coach praying, so many players and coaches have been doing for years across every level of competitive athletics.

As former Senator Rick Santorum once wrote, “The idea of strict or absolute separation of church and state is not and never was the American model.”

American Civil Liberties Union has supported the school and suggested the Supreme Court keep the 9th Circuit’s ruling.

“Public schools must welcome students of all religions and those of none,” the group wrote in an amicus brief. “That obligation is compromised when school officials take it upon themselves to convey (whether intentionally or not) religious messages.”

Biden’s 2020 campaign tour was a change of pace. Biden stated that he wishes American schools taught more about Islam to their students.

“I wish we taught more in our schools about the Islamic faith,” he told supporters at a summit of Muslim voters. “I wish we talked about all the great confessional faiths. It’s one of the great confessional faiths.”

Islam must be taught in schools. But a football coach engaging in Christian prayers following a match? We can’t have that.

Arguments in this case will be heard by the Supreme Court on Monday. It is likely that a decision will be made in the summer.