While a Supreme Court case involving a former Washington high school football coach and religious liberty awaits a decision, Sports Illustrated was chastised for a tweet on the subject on Monday.
Former Bremerton High School student Joseph Kennedy kneels in front of the Supreme Court, according to the sports magazine's daily cover.
"SCOTUS will soon rule on the case of a public school football coach who wants to pray on-field after games," the tweet read. "@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."
Rep. Yvette Herrell joined other Twitter users who took issue with the comment.
"Sports Illustrated seems to be under the impression that coaches and players praying on the field spells the end of American democracy," Herrell wrote. "If that were true, American democracy would have been destroyed long before the legendary Jim Thorpe threw his first pigskin."
Disappointing article Greg
I knelt and prayed after every game I played in the NFL. It was my way of publicly thanking god. With all the challenges in todays society we should encourage faith not discourage.
Freedom OF religion is very different than freedom FROM religion
— Jay Feely (@jayfeely) June 13, 2022
Both bigoted and historically illiterate. https://t.co/hoFf5ne7zY
— Tom Cotton (@TomCottonAR) June 13, 2022
SI coming out swinging against the First Amendment and public prayer as erosion of the "bedrock of democracy" is certainly a choice... https://t.co/sTZxoIhG0U
— Nate Madden (@NateOnTheHill) June 13, 2022
The Supreme Court will consider whether Kennedy's job at Bremerton High School was legally suspended when he refused to cease praying on the field at the end of games.
The nine justices will consider whether a public school employee who claims to be praying alone at school while visible to pupils is participating in "government speech" that is not protected by the First Amendment.
The school administration maintained that the act wasn't a private moment of contemplation because it entailed public prayers with children, some of whom felt compelled to participate.
“The machine backing him” is the US Constitution. And it’s telling that Sports Illustrated thinks the Constitution is a threat to “democracy.” https://t.co/wsYROrQS1I
— Nicholas Fondacaro (@NickFondacaro) June 13, 2022
Kennedy was in the Marine Corps for 18 years and also worked at a local naval shipyard in Bremerton, roughly 20 miles west of Seattle across Puget Sound. In 2008, he returned to Bremerton to work as an assistant varsity coach.
All of the lower courts have decided in favor of the institution. By kneeling and praying in front of students and parents, the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held that Kennedy "spoke as a public employee, not as a private citizen, and his speech therefore was constitutionally unprotected."
Three years later, the Supreme Court, with a 6-3 conservative majority, may be prepared to rule in Kennedy's favor.