Can A Coach Pray on the 50-Yard Line? The Supreme Court Will Decide.

Coach Joe Kennedy was fired for praying with his players. The Supreme Court will decide if this practice is a matter of freedom of speech or separation of church and state.

Coach Joe Kennedy

Background: In 2015, Washington-based high school football coach Joe Kennedy was fired for his practice of praying with his players. Kennedy had not actively encouraged or required participation in his prayers, but many players would join him in his short, inspirational religious speeches midfield. He believed that he had the freedom of speech to do so.

The school district believed that allowing Kennedy’s prayers on school grounds risked the school endorsing or favoring one set of religious views over others. They also believed that the football coach pressured students to pray.

The Supreme court is now seeing the case. The case will test whether the rights of government workers to free speech supersedes the constitutional prohibition of government-endorsed religion. A ruling in favor of Kennedy could bring in an era where prayer is more widely accepted in public schools. The Supreme Court has a current 6-3 conservative majority.

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