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'It is Disappointing': Praying Football Coach Faces Another Loss

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The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals denied football coach Joe Kennedy's request for a 'en banc' hearing after he was fired for praying by himself after a football game.

The religious-freedom law firm First Liberty Institute is representing Kennedy in the case.

"It is disappointing that the Ninth Circuit would refuse to hear Coach Kennedy's case en banc, especially in light of the extreme, far-reaching opinion issued by the three-judge panel," said Mike Berry, Deputy General Counsel for First Liberty. "If this decision is allowed to stand, Jewish teachers can be fired for wearing a yarmulke in sight of students, Catholic teachers are at risk if they wear a crucifix, and Muslim teachers may face discrimination for wearing a hijab to work."
A three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit held in August that Kennedy's school district could fire Kennedy to silently praying alone for 15 to 30 seconds after football games.

"Banning all coaches from praying just because they can be seen is wrong and contradicts the Constitution," said Kelly Schackelford, President and CEO of First Liberty. "We will keep fighting on behalf of Coach Kennedy until his religious liberties are fully restored, including appealing this case to the Supreme Court of the United States."

National leaders including President Donald Trump and Franklin Graham are speaking out for the coach.

"Support Coach Kennedy and his right, together with his young players, to pray on the football field," Trump said in a tweet.

Graham says he wasn't shocked by the ruling.

"It's sad this has happened but it really doesn't surprise me," Graham said on the Todd Starnes Show. "We find these courts and these judges are making these decisions against the will of the people."

"We have judges out there who hate God and hate His standards and disrespect the people who follow God," he added.


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About The Author


Emily Jones is a multi-media journalist for CBN News in Jerusalem. Before she moved to the Middle East in 2019, she spent years regularly traveling to the region to study the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, meet with government officials, and raise awareness about Christian persecution. During her college years, Emily served as president of Regent University's Christians United for Israel chapter and spoke alongside world leaders at numerous conferences and events. She is an active member of the Philos Project, an organization that seeks to promote positive Christian engagement with the Middle