30 seconds to pray – that’s all the coach wants

The courts are still deliberating over the fate of a football coach who serves God first and foremost.

Coach Joe Kennedy’s crime was – after a game, after his football players had left the field in Bremerton, Washington – praying and giving thanks for his team and for being able to coach them, something he had done for seven years. For that he was fired. (See earlier related articles)

That was in the Fall of 2015 – and was soon followed by Kennedy’s filing of a discrimination complaint and, in August 2016, a lawsuit against the school district. First Liberty attorney Jeremy Dys tells OneNewsNow the lower court decided against the coach – and the case is now on appeal before the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

“He’s simply asking the court of appeals for the opportunity to have 15 to 30 seconds to take a knee on the field and offer prayer after the football games there,” says Dys. “He was fired as a coach there for doing that very thing and all we’re asking the court is that they allow Coach Kennedy to [so that].”

Leading up to Kennedy’s suspension, the school district investigated and issued a memo to the coach telling him he could face discipline or dismissal if he engaged in any demonstrative actions of religious expression on campus. That, says Dys, doesn’t meet the constitutional smell test.

“That direction is so egregious that it would stop a Catholic teacher from wearing a crucifix to work. It would prevent a Jewish teacher from wearing his yarmulke. It would prevent a Muslim teacher from wearing her hijab,” the attorney describes. “Certainly that is not what the First Amendment is designed to do.”

Dys also told OneNewsNow the Ninth Circuit justices looked at the case very closely, asking detailed questions about the facts during the Monday hearing. A decision should be announced within a couple of months.