Famed evangelical pastor Franklin Graham has hailed 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 head football coach at Washington State High School from which he was fired for praying on the field after games in 2015,” Pastor Graham said on a March 15 Facebook post. mail.
Coach Kennedy’s reinstatement is “terrific news,” Graham said, referring to the announcement that months after his US Supreme Court victory, Kennedy was finally allowed to return to office this week.
Kennedy’s case went all the way to the US Supreme Court, Graham writes, where last summer justices ruled 6-3 in his favour.
This past June, the Supreme Court sided with Kennedy in what has been described as an important victory for religious freedom in the United States.
Kennedy, a devout Christian who began working at Bremerton High School in 2008, was fired as a college assistant coach and as a junior coach after he refused to leave a prayer service at the 50-yard line in full view of the crowd following games.
In the delivery of the majority opinion in Kennedy v. Bremerton School DistrictJudge 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.
Gorsuch wrote, “Respect for religious expressions is indispensable to life in a free and diverse republic—whether those expressions occur in a sacred place or in a square, and whether they are manifested through the spoken word or bowed head.” “Here, a government entity sought to sanction an individual for engaging in a brief, quiet, personal religious practice doubly protected by the Free Practice and Free Speech Clauses of the First Amendment.”
“I am so grateful to the Supreme Court, my amazing legal team, and everyone who has supported us,” Coach Kennedy said He said response to the ruling. “I thank God for answering our prayers and providing for my family during 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!”
thomas d. Williams is the Rome bureau chief for Breitbart and the author of The next Christian persecution.
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