Americans Favor Praying Football Coaches

New survey indicates most Americans support prayer from coaches.

QUICK FACTS:
  • The majority of Americans support coaches praying on the football field, according to an Associated Press and NORC Center for Public Affairs Research survey.
  • “The poll shows 54% of Americans approve of the ruling, while 22% disapprove and 23% hold neither opinion,” The Associated Press reported.
  • Results from the survey come three months after the United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of a high school football coach’s right to pray on the field after games.
  • The coach, Joseph Kennedy, was a high-profile example of the nation’s support for coaches praying on the field where students could observe and join in.
ATTORNEY’S RESPONSE TO THE POLL:
  • Chris Line, an attorney for the Freedom From Religion Foundation, weighed in saying, “I don’t think there has been a noticeable uptick in these sorts of situations. But the real issue is not going to be the number, because there’s always going to be people like that who want to use their position to push religion on other people. The difference now is whether school districts are going to do the right thing about it.”
  • Kennedy was represented by First Liberty Institute, who told reporters that the court’s decision hasn’t changed much, “good or bad.” The spokesperson said that since the ruling, their client and others have been able to maintain their rights to public prayer but that “it seems to be pretty much the same.”
  • “I think everybody’s trying to figure out what’s next and especially at the high school level ’cause this came out right before the season,” the attorney said.
BACKGROUND:
  • The Supreme Court ruled 6-3 for Kennedy on June 27, stating that the coach had the constitutional right to pray.
  • The coach was a part-time football instructor at a public high school in Washington State and sued the institution after being suspended from his job for leading prayers with players on the field after the games.
  • In the ruling, Justice Neil Gorsuch rejected the school district’s concerns that the public setting of Kennedy’s prayers could be seen as coercive to students, as if governmental allowance implied an endorsement of the activity.
  • The court ruled that Kennedy’s actions were protected as part of his personal First Amendment rights safeguarding free speech and religious expression.