Sports Illustrated’s take on a Christian high school football coach whose quest to pray on the 50-yard line left him without a job is raising eyebrows.
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Joe Kennedy, former head coach for the Bremerton High School football team in Washington state, made national headlines when he was fired in 2015 for praying on the 50-yard line and allowing students and community members to join him.
Critics have widely panned the firing over the reality that players and locals voluntarily chose to join Kennedy after the conclusion of the games. Others have warned that Kennedy’s actions violated the separation of church and state and were appropriately disallowed.
As a result, Bremerton School District and Kennedy have volleyed back and forth in the courts for years, with the case finally reaching the U.S. Supreme Court. With a decision expected soon and with so many eyes on the contentious case, Sports Illustrated decided to cover the story.
But the outlet’s tweet promoting the cover story is sparking quite a bit of negative reaction.
SCOTUS will soon rule on the case of a public school football coach who wants to pray on-field after games.@GregBishopSI on Joe Kennedy, the machine backing him and the expected result: a win for Kennedy and an erosion of a bedrock of American democracy: https://t.co/H8tEoQauZh pic.twitter.com/XCmjK0qQsO— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) June 13, 2022
“SCOTUS will soon rule on the case of a public school football coach who wants to pray on-field after games,” the tweet reads. “@GregBishopSI on Joe Kennedy, the machine backing him and the expected result: a win for Kennedy and an erosion of a bedrock of American democracy.”
The final line, in particular, drew rebuke: “an erosion of a bedrock of American democracy.”
The proclamation from Sports Illustrated appears to be predicated upon the notion that a win for Kennedy would somehow harm the nation — something critics seized upon.
First Amendment attorney Casey Mattox was among those who responded, writing, “Actually, no. It is not an erosion of a bedrock of democracy if the government can’t punish people for praying. This is a bad take.”
Actually, no. It is not an erosion of a bedrock of democracy if the government can’t punish people for praying. This is a bad take.— Casey Mattox (@CaseyMattox_) June 13, 2022
And Mattox wasn’t alone. The official LifeNews.com account added, “A sports publication opposing people exercising their First Amendment rights while playing sports.”
You can read all of the reactions here.
The tweet, though, is only the beginning, as the article, written by Sports Illustrated senior writer Greg Bishop, is titled, “When Faith and Football Teamed Up Against American Democracy.”
The article, which seems to cast Kennedy in a questionable light, contains paragraphs like this:
It’s hard to read that sequence as anything other than performative, a plea for the exact kind of attention likely to add sympathetic supporters to his side. His opponents argue he got exactly what he wanted. But Kennedy says “uh-oh” flashed through his mind that night. Here, and in many other places, skeptics describe his framework as convenient, nifty bits of PR spin.
Regardless, the coach makes for an unlikely figurehead in these legal theatrics. He was aimless for most of his 53 years. For decades, he wasn’t religious at all, and he isn’t overtly so now. He never followed football all that closely.
The long piece explains the arguments in the case, details of Kennedy’s prayer spat, and explores his personal history, though the tone seems anything but flattering.
Experts weigh in on the case, with some warning the Supreme Court’s potential ruling in favor of Kennedy — a verdict in defense of his silent prayers on the 50-yard line — could be “dangerous.”
Despite warnings about the separation of church and state being supposedly knocked down under a Kennedy win, First Liberty Institute special counsel Jeremy Dys, who represents the former coach, said Tuesday that he believes people will soon learn Kennedy was in the right.
“I think we’re going to learn at the end of the month just how far the Constitution protects his rights,” he told Fox News.
We’ll leave you with some of the other reactions to the Sports Illustrated piece:
Bad take.— David French (@DavidAFrench) June 13, 2022
Better take: https://t.co/yMYtchxMZc
It’s such a shame that the sports industry has been infiltrated by woke morons https://t.co/WU553GcrPr— Mike Hahn (@mikehahn_) June 13, 2022
“The expected result is a win for the coach—and the further erosion of the separation between church and state.”— Jay Caruso (@JayCaruso) June 13, 2022
Total nonsense. https://t.co/1Eu4D8zEXa
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