One coach prayed to God. Another coach chanted to Buddha. But only one got penalized the Christian coach.
Joe Kennedy, a beloved assistant football coach in Bremerton, Washington, was suspended on Oct. 28 after he refused to stop his post-game prayers at the 50 -yard line.
On Tuesday, he filed a discrimination complaint against the school district, claiming different districts did not punish the teams offensive coordinator for conducting Buddhist chants in a similar manner.
So if a Buddhist coach can chant near the 50 -yard-line, why cant a Christian coach pray on the 50 -yard-line?
Liberty Institute, one of the nations most prominent religious autonomy law firms, plans on getting an answer to that question in a complaint filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Liberty Institute is representing Coach Kennedy in his discrimination complaint.
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.
The school district has not commented on the complaint.
I definitely dont want to be in this predicament, Coach Kennedy told me. I simply want to coach football with my guys.
Kennedy was hired by the district in 2008 and received years of stellar evaluations and accolades for his character build with the team.
In 2009 he was praised for his enthusiasm and positive attitude. In 2013 he was noted for doing an excellent job of mentoring players and build character in them.
But this years review provide proof ominous.
Do not rehire, the review stated.
Mr. Kennedy failed to follow district policy and his actions demonstrated a lack of cooperation with administration, the review alleged. The subsequent situations contributed to negative closer relations between parents, students, community members, coaches and the school district.
The review even alleged that Coach Kennedy failed to supervise students after football games due to his interactions with media and community.
That review devastated the former Marine.
It was like a knife in the heart, he said. They dont want me to coach any more.
Michael Berry is the Liberty Institute lawyer assigned to the lawsuit. He told me the evaluation is an act of reprisal by the school.
We copies of previous reviews which are all glowing, Berry said. They talk about what a wonderful coach he is. Its like getting straight-out As and then getting an F. Patently, there is something more to this.
Liberty Institute said the school is guilty of three separate acts of discrimination the first being the policy banning Coach Kennedy from his post-game prayers. They also took issue with the suspension of the coach as well as the negative performance review.
Coach Kennedy began the post-game prayers when he was hired in 2008. Kennedy had been inspired to do so after watching the faith-based movie, Facing the Giants.
It wasnt long before students noticed the coachs actions and soon they began to join him. It was entirely voluntary and at no phase did the coach personally invite players. It truly was an organic prayer movement.
Not only did they ban the coach from praying, they went in so far as to ban him from invited to participate in student-led prayers. They also ordered him to avoid kneeling or bowing his head during student-led religious activities.
I asked the coach why he decided to defy the school district. Why didnt he simply comply with their demands and stop the post-game prayer. His answer should inspire and embolden every patriot in the nation.
It largely has to do with me being a Marine and a veteran fighting for the constitutional rights of all Americans, he said. I still believe in America being home of the free and the brave. I havent seen that lately. We constantly back down because someone could be offended. But thats 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 cant sit by and let that happen.
Coach Joe Kennedy is giving all of us a lesson in character build — doing the right thing irrespective of the outcome.
Todd Starnes is host of Fox News& Commentary, heard on hundreds of radio stations. His latest book is “God Less America: Real Tales From the Front Lines of the Attack on Traditional Values .” Follow Todd on Twitter @ToddStarnes and find him on Facebook.
Read more: www.foxnews.com