Famed evangelist Franklin Graham has called on high school football coaches across the U.S. to kneel in prayer on Friday in support of coach Joe Kennedy, who was suspended by the Bremerton School District in Washington in 2015 for praying after games.
On Wednesday, Kennedy lost his two-year court battle against the Bremerton School District, after the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the district was justified in suspending him, stating that the students could be influenced by the coach's behavior.
The three-judge panel argued that Kennedy's speech was not constitutionally protected because he was speaking as a public employee, not as a private citizen, when he kneeled in prayer after games.
In a radio interview with Fox News' Todd Starnes on Thursday, Graham expressed his disappointment with the decision but said that he was not really surprised by it.
"It's sad this has happened but it really doesn't surprise me. 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," the evangelist stated.
He then issued a call to football coaches across the country to pray at the next game that will be held on Friday.
"At next Friday night's game, on Sept. 1, I think it would be great if football coaches across the country went out on the field wherever they are and prayed. And those there to watch the game stand in prayer with them," Graham wrote in a Facebook post on Friday morning. "Let's show our support for coach Kennedy, a former Marine who didn't back down on prayer," he added.
The football coach was suspended in 2015 after defying school officials and continued his practice of praying after games. The district did not rehire him when his contract expired.
First Liberty Institute, which represents Kennedy, sued the district to have Kennedy reinstated in time for the 2016 football season, but its request was denied by a district court last October.
In June, First Liberty attorney Jeremy Dys said that should the Ninth Circuit rule against the football coach, the legal group would first ask for a rehearing en banc, which would allow all nine judges at the Ninth Circuit to hear the case again. The Institute said that its next step will be to file an appeal at the U.S. Supreme Court if the Ninth Circuit still rules against Kennedy.
- Pence hits back at ABC's 'The View' for comparing his Christian faith to mental illness
- Kentucky governor files brief supporting Christian business owner who refused to print gay pride shirts
- Iowa Senate committee approves bill aimed at banning abortions after fetal heartbeat is detected
- Catholic school withdraws threat to expel student who displayed Planned Parenthood sticker on laptop
Vice President Mike Pence has hit back at ABC's "The View" after one host reportedly compared his Christian faith to a mental illness.
The parents of a 17-year-old teenage girl have asked an Ohio family court to issue an order to stop transgender hormone treatments for their daughter.
An evangelical leader in Ethiopia has been sent to jail for offending members of the Orthodox Church after he reportedly got into a heated theological discussion with them.
Kentucky governor files brief supporting Christian business owner who refused to print gay pride shirts
Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin has submitted a legal brief to the Kentucky Supreme Court in support of a Christian business owner who refused to print t-shirts for a gay rights festival due to his religious beliefs.
More than 200 Catholics have taken part in an all-night prayer vigil in Hong Kong to oppose the proposed deal between the Vatican and China on the appointment of bishops.
The Church of Sweden is facing the possibility of losing more than one million of its members within a 10-year period as fewer people are attending services.
An Iowa Senate committee has passed a measure that would ban most abortions in the state after the unborn baby's heartbeat is detected.
Florida megachurch compensates Outback server who was fired after complaining about not receiving tip
A Florida megachurch had reportedly compensated an Outback Steakhouse worker who was fired after she complained on Facebook about not receiving a tip from a $735 order from church members.
A school in Arkansas has decided to take down posters containing Bible verses and Gospel quotes after receiving a complaint a Wisconsin-based atheist organization.
An Egyptian court has sentenced a Muslim man to death by hanging on Monday for the murder of a Coptic Christian priest in Cairo last October.
A Christian magistrate who was removed from his position because of his views on gay adoption has filed a religious discrimination case against the Lord Chief Justice and Lord Chancellor.