Hawaii Family Forum files Supreme Court brief in support of coach who prayed at 50-yard line.
On Tuesday, March 1, 2022, Hawaii Family Forum filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in favor of Coach Joseph Kennedy, who was fired from a public school in Washington State after he prayed briefly at the 50-yard line.
Kennedy began saying a brief prayer following games years ago. Initially he did so alone, but some students asked him what he was doing. When they asked if they could join, he responded, “This is a free country,” and “You can do what you want.” When the school learned what he was doing, it demanded he stop, but he felt responsible to thank God for the games in that way. As a result, he lost his job.
At issue before the Supreme Court is whether the First Amendment speech and religious rights protect Kennedy’s brief prayer following games, and whether the Establishment Clause justifies his dismissal.
“We all suffer when our First Amendment freedoms are violated,” said Eva Andrade. “A free society should not single out a person’s religious speech for unfavorable treatment.”
The Supreme Court’s modern Establishment Clause cases discuss fostering neutrality towards religion. But when all kinds of controversial speech by teachers is permitted and only religious speech is silenced, it sends a message not of religious neutrality but of hostility toward religion. A short prayer following a game, joined in only by those who wish to join, hardly amounts to an establishment of religion, particularly when the school was clear that it had nothing to do with Kennedy’s activities.
A copy of Hawaii Family Forum’s brief can be found here. Hawaii Family Forum is a state-based organization in Hawaii advocating for policies that serve parents, students, and teachers in the state. Especially with respect to religious freedom and faith.Coach-Kennedy-Brief