Appeals Court Declines to Reconsider Ruling Against Football Coach Who Lost Job for Praying on Field

ICC Note: As previously reported, Joe Kennedy, a former football coach at a Washington high school, was fired in 2015 over his practice of praying on the 50-yard-line. Last August, following a lawsuit that challenged Kennedy’s firing, a court of appeals denied to grant an injunction that would have allowed him to return to his job. Recently, the court of appeals declined to rehear the ruling, prompting the coach to make plans to appeal to the Supreme Court.

By Heather Clark

01/26/2018 United States (Christian News Network) – The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has declined to rehear a ruling from last August that denied relief to a Washington football coach who was put out of a job in 2015 as school district officials decided not to renew his contract in the midst of a battle over his desire to pray at the 50-yard line. The coach now plans to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“Judges [Milan] Smith and [Morgan] Christen have voted to deny the petition for rehearing en banc, and Judge [Dorothy] Nelson so recommends,” Thursday’s order read. “A judge of the court called for a vote on the petition for rehearing en banc. A vote was taken, and a majority of the non-recused active judges of the court failed to vote for en banc rehearing. The petition for rehearing en banc is denied.”

As previously reported, Joe Kennedy, the former assistant head coach for the varsity team at Bremerton High School and the head coach for the junior varsity team, was placed on paid administrative leave in October 2015 when he prayed at the conclusion of the homecoming game despite an order to cease his practice.

Kennedy said that he began offering brief prayers on the field in 2008, then praying on his own. He was subsequently approached by several team members who asked what he was doing.

“I was thanking God for you guys,” Kennedy recalls responding. “Then a couple said they were Christians and asked if they could join. I responded, ‘It’s a free country, you can do whatever you want to do.’”

He said that he never asked students to pray with him, but some desired to, including those from the opposing team.


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