Landmark religious liberty victory
School officials at Bremerton High School in Washington state suspended—and later fired— the football coach because he prayed a brief, quiet prayer after football games.
Kennedy had made a commitment to God that he would give thanks at the conclusion of each game for what the players had accomplished and for the opportunity to be part of their lives through football.
Neil Gorsuch, author of the majority opinion, called the school district’s removal of Coach Kennedy from his position as discriminatory.
Gorsuch wrote, “Here, a government entity sought to punish an individual for engaging in a brief, quiet, personal religious observance doubly protected by the Free Exercise and Free Speech Clauses of the First Amendment. And the only meaningful justification the government offered for its reprisal rested on a mistaken view that it had a duty to ferret out and suppress such religious expression. … The Constitution neither mandates nor tolerates that kind of discrimination.”
In his Fox News opinion piece posted Monday, Coach Kennedy wrote, “I simply could not give up my fight to compromise the commitment I made to God, and keep their respect on the field. I had to keep fighting.”
Kelly Shackelford, Chief Counsel for First Liberty, which represented Kennedy, said, “This is a tremendous victory for Coach Kennedy and religious liberty for all Americans. Our Constitution protects the right of every American to engage in private religious expression, including praying in public, without fear of getting fired.”
Supreme Court refuses to hear the D. James Kennedy Ministries case
Sadly, Coral Ridge Ministries lost its suit at the U.S. Supreme Court against the Southern Poverty Law Center.
The left-wing group had labelled Coral Ridge Ministries, founded by the late D. James Kennedy, as a so-called “hate group.” The SPLC claimed Coral Ridge Ministries was a hate group, along with groups like Family Research Council, because it merely affirmed a Biblical understanding of marriage and sexuality.
Only Justice Clarence Thomas dissented, who said it’s time to reconsider longstanding precedent regarding defamation lawsuits, according to LawandCrime.com. (You can read Thomas’ dissent on the 11th page here.)