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Christian Coach Who Prayed before Games Loses Appeals Court Case

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A federal appeals court agreed with a lower court’s ruling, saying Coach Joe Kennedy would not be able to go back to his coaching job at a Washington high school after he was dismissed for praying after football games.

 

 

 

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A federal appeals court agreed with a lower court’s ruling, saying Coach Joe Kennedy would not be able to go back to his coaching job at a Washington high school after he was dismissed for praying after football games.

 

 

 

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I find this rather sad, I really see no reason for the poor guy to loose his job. Having said that and it may be a British thing, I don't see the need for public displays, footballers do it (soccer) when they win, they don't do it when they loose which makes me wonder what or who the gesture is meant for. No one can see a person praying, he could stand there with his arms folded and pray as much as he wants. Don't misunderstand me, I see nothing wrong with a person kneeling and praying. Taking the man to court was ridiculous. I wonder if not publicly praying was in his contract when he signed up. (just a few ponders on the matter).

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I find this rather sad, I really see no reason for the poor guy to loose his job. Having said that and it may be a British thing, I don't see the need for public displays, footballers do it (soccer) when they win, they don't do it when they loose which makes me wonder what or who the gesture is meant for. No one can see a person praying, he could stand there with his arms folded and pray as much as he wants. Don't misunderstand me, I see nothing wrong with a person kneeling and praying. Taking the man to court was ridiculous. I wonder if not publicly praying was in his contract when he signed up. (just a few ponders on the matter).

 

In the US we have a long-standing policy of separation of church and state, which means that the government is to be neutral when it comes to religion. The coach was a government employee and while on government time engaged in a very public display of his religion in a manner and setting that the courts viewed as coercive towards his players (it created an environment where players could feel pressure to join in) and could be reasonably seen as government endorsement of religion.

 

As you note, if the coach's intent was to offer genuine thanks to God after a game, he could easily have done that to himself or on his own time. Instead he deliberately chose to do so in a very visible, public way, which ended up being his downfall.

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In the US we have a long-standing policy of separation of church and state, which means that the government is to be neutral when it comes to religion. The coach was a government employee and while on government time engaged in a very public display of his religion in a manner and setting that the courts viewed as coercive towards his players (it created an environment where players could feel pressure to join in) and could be reasonably seen as government endorsement of religion.

 

As you note, if the coach's intent was to offer genuine thanks to God after a game, he could easily have done that to himself or on his own time. Instead he deliberately chose to do so in a very visible, public way, which ended up being his downfall.

 

I see your point about being neutral, and I guess his contract would imply he should be. Seems silly on his part now thinking about it, loosing his livelihood, when he could simply have left out the gestures.

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I see your point about being neutral, and I guess his contract would imply he should be.

It's more about our Constitution and him being a government employee than it is about his contract.

 

Seems silly on his part now thinking about it, loosing his livelihood, when he could simply have left out the gestures.

We can't say for sure, but his actions since this all happened seem to be consistent with the public aspect of his prayer being the main point. IOW, he was seeking public attention all along.

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In the US we have a long-standing policy of separation of church and state, which means that the government is to be neutral when it comes to religion.

 

But the constitution does not require neutrality. It says that the government cannot prohibit freedom of religion or the free exercise of it. It doesn't exempt government employees; they are free to express their religious beliefs any time, including when they are on the job. The idea of separation of church and state was intended to protect churches from interference by the government. This case involves the actions of an individual and no church is involved so the idea of separation between church and state is irrelevant.

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But the constitution does not require neutrality. It says that the government cannot prohibit freedom of religion or the free exercise of it.

I know it's a popular conservative talking point, but the legal reality is that the federal courts have ruled consistently on this for a very long time.

 

It doesn't exempt government employees; they are free to express their religious beliefs any time, including when they are on the job.

Only within limits. Just a a Muslim teacher can't coerce her students to pray to Allah, a Christian football coach can't do the same with his players.

 

This case involves the actions of an individual and no church is involved so the idea of separation between church and state is irrelevant.

That may be your opinion, but obviously multiple courts have ruled otherwise.

 

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Only within limits. Just a a Muslim teacher can't coerce her students to pray to Allah, a Christian football coach can't do the same with his players.

 

He wasn't coercing anyone to pray. He was just praying. He has a constitutional right to do that, just as a Muslim teacher would have a right to pray.

 

The constitution gives everyone the right to pray at any time. The fact that judges have ruled otherwise doesn't change this fact. But there is something more important than the constitution involved. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 says, "Pray without ceasing." We must obey that command regardless of what any human law says. Perhaps you should read chapter 6 of Daniel and see how Daniel responded when he was forbidden to pray to God.

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He wasn't coercing anyone to pray. He was just praying.

No, he wasn't "just praying". While on the clock as a football coach and representative of the government, he prayed in a deliberately public manner. And given his role and status relative to his players, that can be seen as creating an environment where players feel pressured to go along. And the courts have consistently ruled for decades that public school officials cannot create that type of environment.

 

He has a constitutional right to do that, just as a Muslim teacher would have a right to pray.

If this was just about him wanting to pray, why did he have to go out to the middle of the field immediately after the game to do it? What's the point of that? Why can't he just pray to himself after he's off the clock?

 

The constitution gives everyone the right to pray at any time.

No it doesn't.

 

But there is something more important than the constitution involved. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 says, "Pray without ceasing." We must obey that command regardless of what any human law says. Perhaps you should read chapter 6 of Daniel and see how Daniel responded when he was forbidden to pray to God.

And I'm sure you're also familiar with Christ's instructions in Matthew 6:5-6 "“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. "

 

The coach's actions seem much more like the hypocrites Jesus was talking about.

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No, he wasn't "just praying". While on the clock as a football coach and representative of the government, he prayed in a deliberately public manner. And given his role and status relative to his players, that can be seen as creating an environment where players feel pressured to go along. And the courts have consistently ruled for decades that public school officials cannot create that type of environment.

 

Bit if he hadn't prayed wouldn't that have created an environment in which players feel restricted from praying?

 

If this was just about him wanting to pray, why did he have to go out to the middle of the field immediately after the game to do it? What's the point of that? Why can't he just pray to himself after he's off the clock?

 

We are commanded to pray all the time, whether we are on the job or not. He shouldn't be required to wait until he was off the job to pray.

 

The coach's actions seem much more like the hypocrites Jesus was talking about.

 

Did you read the 6th chapter of Daniel? Daniel 6:10 says, "When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously." Allowing others to see you praying isn't always wrong. Even Jesus sometimes prayed publicly. It all depends on the reason you pray.

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