Sports Illustrated received flak for its cover story on former Bremerton High School football coach Joseph Kennedy, whose long-running legal case will soon be decided upon by the United States Supreme Court.
A Cover Story & Tweet Gone Wrong
The Sports Illustrated article was entitled, "When Faith and Football Teamed Up Against American Democracy," and was released on Monday.
The article, written by Greg Bishop, highlighted that "the U.S. Supreme Court will soon decide the case of a football coach at a public high school who was told he wasn't allowed to pray on the field in front of players. The expected result is a win for the coach-and the further erosion of the separation between church and state." A statement based on what Bishop claimed in the article.
"To them, he's a hero, David slaying an anti-faith Goliath. To others, he's a sledgehammer aimed at a bedrock of democracy: the separation of church and state," Bishop said.
Promoting the cover feature, the 68-year-old American publication posted Bishop's statements on Twitter and that's when a barrage of criticisms came flooding in.
Faithwire highlighted that critics of the Sports Illustrated tweet contradicted the publication's claim and called it "a bad take," "a shame," and "total nonsense," among others. NewsBusters Managing Editor Curtis Houck even alluded that the tweet was a desperate attempt to increase the publication's readership.
Fox News said Kennedy ripped the Sports Illustrated feature on him when he appeared for an interview the next day on "Fox & Friends." Kennedy revealed that he even met with Bishop on the write-up and praised him for his "storytelling ability." The former football coach wondered whether the publication's editors and officials were responsible for the language used in the tweet.
Reacting to the claims of Sports Illustrated, First Liberty Institute Special Counsel Jeremy Dys said that a favorable decision from the Supreme Court on Kennedy's case is in no way a threat to American democracy. The Supreme Court accepted Kennedy's case last January and held oral arguments in April, pending a decision that is expected to come out at the end of this month.
"I think we're going to learn at the end of the month just how far the Constitution protects his rights," Dys said.
A Praying Football Coach's 6-Year Court Battle
According to First Liberty, Kennedy's legal representative, the former football coach was praying silently and alone on Bremerton High School's football field after the game. Kennedy was terminated from employment by the school in 2015 for this private prayer, alleging that he coerced students and players to join him in public.
A matter Dys emphasized was proven by the school district in 2015 as false for it had no evidence of coercion. The counsel confidently believes that this is the same understanding Supreme Court justices have of what happened.
During oral arguments on the case, The Supreme Court debated the constitutionality of the coach's post-game prayer. Kennedy has been praying every after game for years as part of a promise he made to God. Former U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement defended Kennedy on each argument raised by the justices, which prompted legal experts to perceive a positive decision will be handed out by the justices in the former coach's favor.