Judge: School Doesn't Have to Rehire Praying Coach

By Todd Starnes

There’s been a legal setback for Joe Kennedy, the high school football coach who lost his job after he refused to stop praying at midfield after football games.

U.S. District Judge Ronald Leighton declined to issue a preliminary injunction that would have forced the Bremerton School District in Washington State to rehire Coach Joe while his case is litigated.

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The former coach is suing the district – claiming they violated his religious rights.  First Liberty Institute, one of the nation’s most prominent religious liberty law firms, is handling the case.

Attorney Michael Berry tells me they are disappointed in what he described as a temporary setback.

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Here’s the back story:

Coach Joe was placed on administrative leave last year after he refused to stop a post-game tradition of taking a knee and praying at the 50-yard-line.

It was a personal covenant he made with God after watching “Facing the Giants,” a faith-based football film.

After every game for the past eight years, the coach would quietly walk out to the 50-yard line, take a knee and offer a brief prayer.

Over the years, students asked if they could participate and he said they were free to do whatever they wanted.

But all that changed last year when the school district launched an investigation and ordered the coach to cease and desist.

He was ordered to avoid kneeling, bowing his head or doing anything that could remotely be seen as religious.

Ironically, last week another Washington state football coach made national headlines for taking a knee.

Joey Thomas, the head football coach at Garfield High School, joined his entire team as they took a knee during the national anthem to protest America.

“I bet if they were praying instead of protesting, the school would have moved heaven and Earth to stop it,” said Hiram Sasser, deputy chief counsel for First Liberty Institute.

God and Country are reviled in our public school system, not revered. 

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