The United States Supreme Court has ruled in favor, 6-3, of Christian high school football coach Joe Kennedy who was fired from his position after silently praying on the field after games. According to The Christian Post, though the Bremerton School District in Washington terminated him for what they believed to be a violation of the Establishment Clause of the United States Constitution, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the school district was actually the one in violation of Coach Kennedy’s First Amendment rights.
The Christian Post reports that Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote of the Supreme Court’s decision, “Kennedy prayed during a period when school employees were free to speak with a friend, call for a reservation at a restaurant, check email, or attend to other personal matters. He offered his prayers quietly while his students were otherwise occupied. Still, the Bremerton School District disciplined him anyway.” He added that, “both the Free Exercise and Free Speech Clauses of the First Amendment protect expressions like Mr. Kennedy’s … The Constitution and the best of our traditions counsel mutual respect and tolerance, not censorship and suppression, for religious and nonreligious views alike.”
Still, the decision was not unanimous with three of the justices remaining firm in dissent. Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote “this decision does a disservice to schools and the young citizens they serve, as well as to our Nation’s longstanding commitment to the separation of church and state,” arguing that “official-led prayer strikes at the core of our constitutional protections for the religious liberty of students and their parents, as embodied in both the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment.”
Coach Kennedy’s firm belief in his religious rights has set an example for others who may experience a similar situation. In response to the decision, Coach Kennedy celebrated being able to join his team on the field again. Expressing his tremendous gratitude, Kennedy said “I am incredibly grateful to the Supreme Court, my fantastic legal team, and everyone who has supported us. I thank God for answering our prayers and sustaining my family through this long battle.” With the Supreme Court upholding the protections of the First Amendment, it gives Americans a cause to celebrate as religious freedom remains strong in our country.