High School Football Coach Suspended for Praying While Buddhist Coach Allowed to Chant
Veronica NeffingerReligious persecution, missions, Christianity around the world
- 2015 Dec 18
A Washington high school football coach who was suspended for praying on the field is fighting for his religious freedom rights.
According to Charisma News, Joe Kennedy is a beloved assistant football coach at a high school in Bremerton, Washington. Coach Kennedy was suspended on October 28 for refusing to stop praying on the 50-yard line after football games.
With the help of the Liberty Institute, Coach Kennedy filed a discrimination complaint against the school district. In his complaint, Kennedy points out the unfair treatment he received because he was punished for praying on the field while a Buddhist coach was not punished for chanting to Buddha.
"BSD violated my rights to free exercise of religion and free speech by prohibiting my private religious expression and taking adverse employment action against me on the basis of my religion, notwithstanding my request for a reasonable accommodation that would allow me to practice my sincerely held religious beliefs," Kennedy wrote in his complaint.
Kennedy has received stellar reviews since being hired by the school in 2008. He was praised for his “enthusiasm and positive attitude” and acknowledged for doing an “excellent job of mentoring players and building character in them.”
Kennedy’s suspension thus comes as a shock.
"We provided copies of previous reviews which are all glowing," said Michael Berry, an attorney with the Liberty Institute. "They talk about what a wonderful coach he is. It's like getting straight A's and then getting an F. Obviously, there is something more to this."
When asked why he chose to stand up for his faith, Coach Kennedy replied, "It largely has to do with me being a Marine and a veteran—fighting for the constitutional rights of all Americans. I still believe in America being home of the free and the brave. I haven't seen that lately. We constantly back down because someone could be offended. But that's not the American way. We talk about practicing tolerance and acceptance and diversity yet we are not living up to that. As an American, I can't sit by and let that happen."
Photo courtesy: Wikipedia
Publication date: December 18, 2015