A Republican senator from Oklahoma has used the widespread popular support of NFL national anthem protests against President Trump’s stance on protest itself to incite what he sees as a biased playing field which restricted a Christian high school football coach in Washington state, among others.
As reported by the Washington Examiner, James Lankford cited what he views to be an unequal calibration of free speech rights following the public support for NFL players, claiming that the same support should have been provided for former Bremerton (Wash.) football coach Joseph Kennedy, who was suspended when he refused to stop kneeling in prayer before his public school football team’s contests. Kennedy has been fighting the decision in court following a lawsuit which was filed in June.
President Trump has been among the most vocal supporters of Kennedy’s case, though he has not specifically cited it in reference to the ongoing NFL protests against himself and perceived African-American inequality.
“We do have high school coaches that have kneeled in silent prayer, and they’ve been fired,” Lankford told members of the press on Monday. “We can’t say to one football coach, you’re fired if you kneel in silent prayer at the end of the game, but to a player, if you kneel in protest at a game, you’re celebrated. We’ve got to be able to determine where we are as Americans on that, if we’re going to honor all free speech and all free exercise of religion, we ought to be able to honor that universally.”