As Supreme Court rules for coach and prayer, faith leaders weigh in: ‘We rejoice’ – Fox News

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The U.S. Supreme Court has sided with a former Washington state high school football coach who lost his job at a public school because he recited a silent prayer on the 50-yard line after football games.

Joe Kennedy worked at Bremerton School District in Washington as a junior varsity head coach and varsity assistant coach from 2008 to 2015. 

He began the practice of reciting a post-game prayer by himself — and eventually students began joining him. 

HIGH SCHOOL COACH SCORES BIG WIN AT SUPREME COURT OVER POST-GAME PRAYER

Faith leaders shared thoughts with Fox News Digital after the high court released its ruling in the case on Monday morning.

Former Bremerton High School assistant football coach Joe Kennedy answers questions after his legal case, Kennedy vs. Bremerton School District, was argued before the Supreme Court April 25, 2022, in Washington, D.C. Bremerton public school officials in 2015 terminated Kennedy from his job after he refused to stop his on-field prayers after football games.

Former Bremerton High School assistant football coach Joe Kennedy answers questions after his legal case, Kennedy vs. Bremerton School District, was argued before the Supreme Court April 25, 2022, in Washington, D.C. Bremerton public school officials in 2015 terminated Kennedy from his job after he refused to stop his on-field prayers after football games. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

In a message on Monday morning, Rebecca Hatfield, president of 2nd Vote, a faith-based nonprofit in Nashville, Tenn., said, “The Supreme Court ruling in favor of Coach Kennedy’s rights to pray and exercise his right to free speech is a huge victory for our country at a time when religious liberties and free speech have been greatly under attack.” 

She added, “2nd Vote would like to thank the Supreme Court for correctly interpreting the First Amendment and correcting this injustice to Coach Kennedy. We rejoice whenever liberty reigns in our land.”

THE SUPREME COURT AGREES I HAVE A RIGHT TO PRAY AND I AM GLAD I STAYED IN THE FIGHT

Rabbi Pinchas Taylor, who is based in Plantation, Fla., told Fox News Digital, “Prayer is remembering and praising the source of our strength and recalling gratitude for the help we have received.”

He went on, “Prayer does not seek to change the mind of God to receive a blessing — but to change man’s awareness of God, making him a vessel for the blessings. Biblical Hebrew has no word for ‘religion.’”

Rabbi Taylor shared thoughts with Fox News Digital about the Supreme Court's ruling on Monday about Coach Joe Kennedy in Washington state.

Rabbi Taylor shared thoughts with Fox News Digital about the Supreme Court’s ruling on Monday about Coach Joe Kennedy in Washington state. (Rabbi Pinchas Taylor/Chabad.org)

Rabbi Taylor added, “The goal is to live a godly life in all of our perspectives and deeds, and not confined to weekend services.”

“Recognizing a higher power at your house of worship is fine — but doing it at your dinner table or on the football field is infusing the mundane with higher purpose. This is a good thing for both individuals and greater society.”

Joe Kennedy, who coached high school football in Bremerton, Washington, is shown with his players on the field. 

Joe Kennedy, who coached high school football in Bremerton, Washington, is shown with his players on the field.  (First Liberty Institute)

Said Judge Phil Ginn, president of Southern Evangelical Seminary (SES) in Charlotte, N.C., “The Supreme Court ruling in the Coach Joe Kennedy case is a breath of fresh air for both religious freedom and the concept of free speech, both of which are firmly embedded in our Constitution.”

“The right to free speech ought to apply to all kinds of speech, not just to that which a majority thinks it should be confined.”

He also shared with Fox News Digital, “It has always been a feckless argument to say that someone might be offended or influenced by religious expression. In the real world, speech is always intended to influence in some manner; therefore, the right to free speech ought to apply to all kinds of speech, not just to that which a majority thinks it should be confined.”

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Added Ginn, “Now, with this ruling, teachers and public officials all across America need not be afraid to privately bow their heads in thanksgiving or prayer to Almighty God, a right that has always been included in our basic rights granted under the Constitution. May it always be so.”

His said as well, “SCOTUS finally got another one right!”

The Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C., is shown in this image.

The Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C., is shown in this image. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

Rev. Franklin Graham, president and CEO of Samaritan’s Purse as well as president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, shared with Fox News Digital in a statement, “Congratulations to Coach Joe Kennedy — this is a win for the free exercise of religion and free speech, so it’s a win for all Americans!”

Added Rev. Graham, “Coach Kennedy lost his job when the school district tried to stop him from praying on the field after football games. He would kneel in prayer after every game — whether he won or lost — to give thanks to God. Today, the Supreme Court underscored that expressions of our religious beliefs should not be singled out or suppressed by the government.”

Rev. Franklin Graham said in part on Monday, June 27, 2022, "Thank you, Coach Kennedy, for going through this difficult battle that took many years and a toll on your life and your family!"

Rev. Franklin Graham said in part on Monday, June 27, 2022, “Thank you, Coach Kennedy, for going through this difficult battle that took many years and a toll on your life and your family!” (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)(LOGAN CYRUS/AFP)

Graham also said, “This isn’t a time for Christians to roll over — it is a time to defend our religious freedoms so that they are not lost for our children and grandchildren. Thank you, Coach Kennedy, for going through this difficult battle that took many years and a toll on your life and your family!”

Misty Philip of Austin, Texas — founder of Spark, a Christian Podcast Network — told Fox News Digital in an email, “So thankful for the courage of this coach to pray and lead these kids in the face of opposition. I hope this ruling sends a ripple effect across our nation that encourages more people to pray in public and at after-school events.”

Jason Yates, CEO of My Faith Votes, told Fox News Digital on Monday that his group “celebrates with people of faith across America upon learning the Supreme Court upheld our constitutional rights to both free exercise and free speech in Kennedy v. Bremerton School District. The high court’s decision is evidence that God is at work in our nation to see that nothing impedes the glory he deserves.” 

“Each one of us has the same opportunity to stand unapologetically for godly values.”

Yates added, “Coach Kennedy is a courageous man of faith who is not ashamed to bring the influence of the gospel into every aspect of his life. Each one of us has the same opportunity to stand unapologetically for godly values in our homes, our churches, our workplaces and the voting booth.”

He also said, “I pray we do all of that and more as we go and make disciples without fear of government retaliation.”

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Lt. Col. Allen West of Dallas, Texas, who teaches biblical citizenship at Patriot Academy, told Fox News Digital in a statement, “I commend the U.S. Supreme Court once again for ruling on the side of the Constitution and individual rights.”

“Solemn, silent and solitary individual prayer by anyone in any venue is not a sponsorship of government religion. It is a sacred part of our Judeo-Christian faith heritage.”

Said West, “The Coach Kennedy case was a secular humanist and progressive socialist challenge to our very first liberty, the freedom of religion and the free exercise thereof. Coach Kennedy’s actions of taking a knee in prayer after high school football games was a personal right. He did not advocate for or seek any state, government or endorsement — nor coerce anyone to enjoin with him.”

“We have distorted the concept of separation of church and state, written by Thomas Jefferson in his letter to the Danbury (Conn.) Baptist convention.”

Col. Allen West shared his views of the Supreme Court's ruling in the Coach Joe Kennedy case on Monday, June 27, 2022.

Col. Allen West shared his views of the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Coach Joe Kennedy case on Monday, June 27, 2022.

West also said, “Solemn, silent and solitary individual prayer by anyone in any venue is not a sponsorship of government religion. It is a sacred part of our Judeo-Christian faith heritage — which should not be separated from any American citizen.”

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And Cristian Ionescu, senior pastor of Elim Romanian Pentecostal Church in Chicago, shared with Fox News Digital, “It is apparent that the Supreme Court is on a roll, affirming long-gone sacred, constitutional rights that were taken away by liberal progressives through agenda-driven legislation and/or activist judges.”

He added, “We cannot ignore President Trump’s impact and courageous nominations of constitutionalists to the Supreme Court.”

“We need to continue to pray,” said Ionescu, “for this country and hope that the United States of America is set not only on an economic and political recovery from the madness of the last few years, but on a spiritual awakening.”

Source URL: https://www.foxnews.com/lifestyle/supreme-court-rules-coach-prayer-faith-leaders

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