High School Coach Fired For Silently Praying Before Games
When Joe Kennedy made headlines in Seattle, Washington five years ago for being fired from his coaching job for praying, he vowed to fight.
“I was blessed for eight years with these guys,” he said. “And it was just awesome, and I look at my blessings instead of what I lost.”
But as a former United States Marine, Kennedy said this is a fight that’s bigger than him.
“Praying, I can do anywhere,” he said. “The Christian side of me is, like, you don’t take away my faith. Prayer makes no difference where you do it. But the Marine in me? It was like, yeah, I will fight for the Constitution and everybody’s rights. It means something to me. I’ve got blood in that game.”
Wednesday, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and Alaska Attorney General Kevin Clarkson led 21 states in an “amicus brief” filed with the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit defending the religious liberty of public employees.
Kennedy coached football at Bremerton High School until he was suspended midway through the season in 2015 for praying silently on the field after each game.
The school district prohibited Kennedy from coaching out of baseless fear that his individual prayers violated the Establishment Clause.
Last year, when the case was first appealed to the United States Supreme Court, Justice Alito—joined by Justices Thomas, Gorsuch, and Kavanaugh—expressed concern that the lower courts had improperly read the Establishment Clause to require school control over virtually everything an employee does, even when off-duty.
After the district court again ruled for the school district, Coach Kennedy’s case is once again before the Ninth Circuit. Texas’s amicus brief argues in defense of the religious liberty guaranteed to Coach Kennedy and all public employees by the First Amendment.
“By preventing Coach Kennedy from exercising his religious freedom, the district has demonstrated constitutionally impermissible hostility toward religion. In fact, the district’s shifting demands show a determination to infringe on his First Amendment right to religious exercise,” said Attorney General Paxton.
“An unfounded fear that the school district might be seen as endorsing religion is no justification for prohibiting a man from honoring his deeply-held beliefs. Religious expression and public service can and must coexist.”
Denying public employees the right to engage in private religious expression, such as kneeling in silent prayer for less than a minute, also directly threatens religious diversity a release from Paxton’s office stated.
By forcing employees to forgo their constitutionally protected right to religious liberty, public institutions ensure that their employees must either hide their beliefs entirely or hold no religious beliefs at all, it continued.
Raised in San Antonio, Jack Dennis’ early experiences were as a newspaper reporter and private investigator. With a Texas State University bachelor’s degree, Jack studied journalism, education and psychology. He was the founding vice-president of Sigma Delta Chi, the Association of Professional Journalists at the University. Jack has received numerous awards, including Investigative Reporter of the Year from Rocky Mountain Press Association, David Ashworth Community Award, and Leadership in Management.
Some of the people and groups Jack has interviewed include:
Elvis Presley, Merle Haggard, George Jones, Willie Nelson, B.B. King, George Strait, Roy Orbison, Justin Timberlake, Steven Tyler, Freddie Mercury, Kenny Rogers, Kenny Loggins, Jackson Browne, Steve Wariner, Tanya Tucker, Scotty Moore, Fats Domino, Patty Page, Tommy Roe, Emmy Lou Harris, Johnny Rivers, Charly McClain, Kinky Friedman, John McFee, Guy Allison & Patrick Simmons (Doobie Brothers) , Randy Bachman (BTO), Jim Messina, Todd Rundgren, Alvin Lee, Gary Puckett, The Ventures, Freddy Cannon, Augie Meyer, Christopher Cross, Whiskey Myers, Sha Na Na (John “Bowzer” Baumann), Flash Cadillac, Jerry Scheff, John Wilkinson, Darrell McCall, and more.
Politicians & News
George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, Lady Bird Johnson, Greg Abbott, Rudolph Giuliani, Larry King, Jack Anderson, Tom Bradley, Connie Mack, and more.
Clint Eastwood, Mike Myers, Taylor Lautner, Cameron Diaz, Jerry Lewis, Eddie Murphy, Antonio Banderas, Julie Andrews, Selena Gomez, Tippi Hedren, James Earl Jones, James Woods, Jim Nabors, Martha Raye, Rosalind Russell, June Lockhart, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Howie Mandel, Meg Ryan, Cheri Oteri, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, James Drury, Melanie Griffith, Nathan Lane, Alan Thicke, Lou Diamond Phillips, Clint Howard, Tony Sirico, Cesar Romero, Michael Berryman, Tracy Scoggins, William Windom, Warren Stevens and more.
Buzz Aldrin, Alan Bean, Wally Schirra, Dave Scott, Gene Cernan, Walt Cunningham, Scott Carpenter, Gene Kranz (NASA Flight Director), Ed Mitchell, Richard Gordon, Bruce McCandless, Vanentina Treshkova (first woman in space, Russia), Alex Leonov (first man to walk in space, Russian), Al Worden, Dee O’Hara (nurse to astronauts) and more.
Sports: Joe Torre, Roger Staubach, Bob Hayes, Billie Jean King, Manuela Maleeva, Drew Pearson, Bob Lilly, Tim Duncan, David Robinson, George Gervin, Tony Parker, Shannon Miller, Cathy Rigby, Bruce Bowen, Wade Boggs, Fernando Valenzuela, Bernie Kosar, Dale Murphy, Jim Abbott, Dick Bartell, Mike Schmidt, Dan Pastorini and more.
May Pang, Bob Eubanks, Vernon Presley, Vester Presley, Charlie Hodge, Joe Esposito, Rick Stanley (Elvis’ step-brother, Harold Lloyd (Elvis’ first cousin), Doyle Brunson, Kara Peller, Hank Meijer, Norman Brinkler, Stanley Marcus, Jerry King, Mac King, Nathan Burton, Zach Anner, Louie Anderson, Owen Benjamin, Steve Byrne and more.
As head of Facilities for a major retailer (H-E-B Food/Drugs) for 20 years, Jack co-founded Professional Retail Store Maintenance Association (PRSM) and was elected President to establish PRSM magazine. Jack is a writer, speaker, golf-concierge and happiness coach. He has researched and studied happiness for over 40 years.
Jack was a prolific writer for Examiner.com, with over 1,900 articles written in six years. His articles and stories have appeared in AXS Entertainment, The ROWDY Country Music, Memphis Flash, and numerous magazines.
He is author of “Miracles of Justice,” a true courtroom drama novel about social injustice and miracles.