Celebrated Evangelical pastor Franklin Graham has praised the return of Washington state high school coach Joseph Kennedy, a Christian who was fired from his job for praying on the football field.
“I am glad to hear that Joe Kennedy has finally been reinstated as a football coach at the Washington state high school he was dismissed from for praying on the field after games back in 2015,” Rev. Graham noted in a March 15 Facebook post.
The reinstatement of Coach Kennedy is “great news,” Graham said, in reference to the announcement that months after winning at the U.S. Supreme Court, Kennedy has finally been allowed to return to his post this week.
Kennedy’s case went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court where last summer justices made a 6-3 ruling in his favor, Graham wrote.
Last June, the Supreme Court sided with Kennedy in what was touted as an important win for religious liberty in the United States.
Kennedy, a devout Christian who began working at Bremerton High School in 2008, was fired from his post as varsity assistant coach and as the junior varsity head coach after he refused to quit praying on the 50-yard line in full view of the public following games.
In delivering the majority opinion in Kennedy v. Bremerton School District, Justice Neil Gorsuch stated that the Bremerton School District had violated the Free Exercise Clause and the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment by firing coach Kennedy.
“Respect for religious expressions is indispensable to life in a free and diverse Republic — whether those expressions take place in a sanctuary or on a field, and whether they manifest through the spoken word or a bowed head,” Gorsuch wrote. “Here, a government entity sought to punish an individual for engaging in a brief, quiet, personal religious observance doubly protected by the Free Exercise and Free Speech Clauses of the First Amendment.”
“I am incredibly grateful to the Supreme Court, my fantastic legal team, and everyone who has supported us,” Coach Kennedy said in response to the ruling. “I thank God for answering our prayers and sustaining my family through this long battle.”
For his part, Rev. Graham said he hopes Coach Kennedy “will continue to kneel in prayer — on and off the field — and that this win will protect and encourage others in the same situation!”
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