As I was browsing on Facebook today, I came across this video, Legendary football coach Bobby Bowden is standing by high school football coach Joe Kennedy who lost his job for refusing to stop praying after games, and while I only glanced at it for a second, the message surprised me, because I thought we should be past this kind of thing. It may be old news, but here's my take:
Joe Kennedy, a high school football coach in Washington, was fired for praying at the 50-yard line, and he was denied an appeal to the school district's decision earlier this year. While I am aware of the separation of church and state protected in the Constitution, I can't agree with the Ninth Circuit court in Washington in saying that he was speaking as a public official/public employee on behalf of the school, even though he was wearing the school's logo.
Just because you wear a logo doesn't mean you speak for everyone wearing said logo. Would I be considered a representative of the entire student body at my school if I protested in a KSU shirt? According to this logic, I would, but no one would take that seriously. I do know as an employee you have certain rules to follow, but after the coaching is done and the game is over, you essentially clock out for the night, and what you do after your job is done should be your own business.
I understand that a school-wide broadcasted prayer or a prayer over the loudspeaker at a football game might infringe on others' rights, as they have no choice but to hear it unless they plug their ears (and risk backlash from those who are praying), but if a man is on the 50-yard line at a football game, it's highly unlikely that one in the stands that wish not to partake in prayer or a specific religion's prayer would hear it. You can see someone kneeling, but so long as you're not being forced to kneel and speak the same words, or hear a word of it, you can't complain.
I'm not a super Christian. I don't really go to church all that often and I don't read the Bible regularly. I also know how officials' public image comes across in media and such. I am all for separation of church and state, because having religion forced upon you is not fun-religion should be voluntary. We have laws that enable religious freedom and I believe religious freedom is important.
But in a high school environment, who REALLY cares if the coach of the football team is praying, thanking God for the team's victory or the team's chance to grow and learn in their loss? Until this kind of story comes about, there isn't a national broadcast of the prayer and most people wouldn't know the school exists to complain-I know I didn't.
I see no physical forcefulness or coercion of any sort making these kids and their parents pray with their coach, and that's the clear line that I see no one crossing here that separates church and state. If, as part of the halftime show, the band played gospel music, or the cheerleaders were spelling J-E-S-U-S, I might see that as being a little much for a public school, and that would be more of a reason to have an uproar, as you can't really avoid hearing these. But since the 50-yard line has no megaphone, I'm more inclined to believe that it's voluntary.
Basically, the man should have his job back so long as he doesn't make you pray as an essay or a requirement to get on a team. Being religious is not a crime, and it shouldn't make someone lose a job that they were otherwise good at.