Kennedy, a former Marine Corps gunnery sergeant, has filed a federal lawsuit against the Bremerton School District in Washington State, claiming he was let go because of his religious beliefs.
The school district has yet to respond to the lawsuit.
They fired him for praying, told Michael Berry, the coach-and-four attorney. Berry is with First Liberty Institute, one of the nations largest statute firms handling religion liberty cases.
If a school can do this to someone like Coach Kennedy, they can do it to anybody, Berry told me.
The coach is not asking for a single penny in his lawsuit he only wants his chore back.
All we really want for him is to be back on the sideline coaching those kids and nothing more, Berry said.
Heres the back narrative 😛 TAGEND
Since 2008 Coach Kennedy has taken a knee at the 50 -yard line at the conclusion of every football match to offer a brief, quiet prayer of thanksgiving for player safety, sportsmanship and spirited competition.
The coachs petition to the Almighty usually lasted about 30 seconds. He did not proselytize nor did he obligate players or anybody else to participate. In other words, it was just a private prayer not a Billy Graham Crusade.
He was inspired to pray after watching Facing the Giant, a faith-based cinema about a high school football team.
Coach Kennedy made a covenant with God that he would give thanks through prayer, at the end of each game, for what the players had accomplished and for the opportunity to be part of their lives through the game of football, the lawsuit states.
Over time, some of the teenage players asked if they could join him in prayer and the coach replied, This is a free country. You can do what you want.
The lawsuit also points out that other coach-and-fours engaged in religion expres at the beginning and the end of football games. The lawsuit specifically mentioned David Boynton, an assistant coach who delivered a Buddhist chant near the 50 -yard line.
Coach Boynton has never been suspended, let alone dismissed, on the basis of his religion expres, the lawsuit states.
Its not quite clear what led to the school districts investigation, but on Sept. 17, 2015, Coach Kennedy received a letter informing him that the district was conducting an inquiry into a policy considering religious-related activities and practices.
The district directed the coach are prohibited from praying around students or doing anything that might cause people to think he was praying. He was forbidden from bowing his head or kneeling, too.
However, Coach Kennedy chose to defy the districts demands, and on Oct. 23, 2015, he strolled out to the 50 -yard line after the football match and prayed. On Oct. 28, 2015 the coach was placed on paid administrative leave and banned from participating in the football program.
The District stated it had placed Coach Kennedy on administrative leave because he engaged in overt, public religion displays on the football field while on duty as a coach, the lawsuit states.
In November 2015, Coach Kennedy received a poor performance evaluation after years of receiving stellar performance reviews.
The evaluation recommended that the coach not be rehired based on his alleged failure to follow District policy considering religion expres, and his alleged failure to supervise students after games.
In January 2016, Coach Kennedys contract was not renewed.
Attorney Berry indicates that they tried to reach out to the school district on a number of occasions but the districts attorney declined to meet.
So on January 30, 2016 the coach filed a discrimination charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. In June the Department of Justice issued a right-to-sue letter.
Coach Kennedy told me he has no regrets.
I wouldnt do anything differently, he told. Ive always taught my guys to stand up for what they believe in even if its not popular.
Coach Kennedy is also resulting by instance demonstrating that sometimes there is a price to pay for doing the right thing. But as we learned in Sunday school good will eventually triumph over evil.
And I suspect there are lots of folks in Bremerton who would rather stand alongside a Christian Marine Corps veteran than a bunch of godless school district bureaucrats.
One final note — I truly wish the Bremerton school superintendent would return my telephone calls because theres a question Id like him to answer 😛 TAGEND
If its okay for a Buddhist coach to pray at a football match, why cant a Christian coach pray?
Todd Starnes is host of Fox News& Commentary, hear on hundreds of radio stations. His latest book is “God Less America: Real Stories From the Front Lines of the Attack on Traditional Values .” Follow Todd on Twitter @ToddStarnes and find him on Facebook.
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