The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in favor of high school football coach in the state of Washington, saying he had a right to pray on the field immediately after games.
The case involved football coach Joseph Kennedy, who claimed that the Bremerton School District violated his religious freedom by telling him he couldn’t pray so publicly after the games. The school district said it was trying to avoid the appearance that the school was endorsing a religious point of view.
In recent years, a more conservative Supreme Court has been inclined to view government actions it once considered to be neutral and necessary to maintain separation of church and state as hostile to religious expression.
One issue in the case was whether the coach’s decision to pray in such a prominent place, on the 50-yard line, amounted to a private moment of giving thanks or a public demonstration of his religious faith that his players may have felt compelled to join.
Kennedy urged the Supreme Court to find that he was acting on his own behalf, expressing his own religious views, not speaking not as a mouthpiece for the school. But the school district said the students on the football team looked up to their coach and felt coerced into doing as he did.
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