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Sports Illustrated ventured far from its arena of apolitical sports coverage in its latest attack on an ex-Bremerton, Wash., football coach fired over his on-field prayer custom, Coach Joe Kennedy and his attorney told Fox News.
Kennedy ended his group prayers on the field, but still engaged in post-game prayers by himself. The district didn’t approve, so they put him on leave and wouldn’t allow him to coach.
In 2016, Kennedy filed suit with the help of First Liberty Institute and the Supreme Court earlier in 2022 elected to hear his case.
However, in the interim, Sports Illustrated wrote a rebuke of Kennedy, calling him “a human embodiment of a country that’s deeply divided, a religious movement that surging with momentum even as organized religion becomes increasingly unpopular.”
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“And most of all, a powerful right-wing machine, many say, is employing a timeless division tactic: us versus them — this logic-twisting makes the argument zero-sum and assumes that Christian nationalists have lost their rights all to maintain a culture-war strategy that hinges on a gross oversimplification of stakes,” the periodical added.
Kennedy told Fox News he wasn’t even quite sure what Sports Illustrated meant by part of that commentary.
“I don’t even think they know what it means. Just like in ‘The Princess Bride.’ I don’t think that means what they think it means — I was just being thankful, so I don’t know what the big deal is about,” he said.
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Kennedy told Fox News “The Ingraham Angle” he spent 20 years serving in the Marines and feels he has the ability to exercise the rights he fought to defend.
“The thought that somebody of any kind of faith would have to hide who they are or have to just be ashamed of them being anybody of faith that’s just wrong in my book.”
Attorney Kelly Shackelford added the magazine has “wandered out of [its] arena.”
“They’re in big trouble saying that this would be a threat to democracy. As you and I know, Laura, this isn’t a democracy. It’s a constitutional Republic, and we actually value free speech and the free exercise of religion, which are the rights at jeopardy here for Coach Kennedy.”