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High School Football Coach Who Was Fired for Praying Will Finally Be Back on the Field

10-28-2022
joekennedy

The Washington state high school football coach who was fired for praying on the field will be reinstated next year.

Court documents show that Coach Joe Kennedy will be restored to his position for the fall 2023 football season as an assistant coach at Bremerton High School, ABC reports.

As CBN News has reported, the Supreme Court ruled six to three that the U.S. Constitution protects Kennedy's right to kneel and pray at the 50-yard-line after games, which he sometimes did with players who chose to participate.  

In Kennedy vs. Bremerton School District, both sides argued they were protected by the First Amendment's freedom of speech and freedom of religion, but in the end, the high court sided with individual religious freedoms over government censorship.

Justice Neil Gorsuch, writing for the majority side earlier this year, said, "Respect for religious expressions is indispensable to life in a free and diverse republic—whether those expressions take place in a sanctuary or on a field, and whether they manifest through spoken word or a bowed head."
 
"The First Amendment means that people of faith can be people of faith. They don't have to choose between the job they love and their faith to stay employed," said Coach Kennedy's attorney, Jeremy Dys, with First Liberty Institute.

In 2015, the Bremerton School District fired Coach Kennedy for praying on the 50-yard line after football games. They were concerned that allowing those voluntary post-game prayers would come across as a state endorsement of his religion.

But now that the Supreme Court has rejected that notion after a nearly seven-year legal battle, the district has agreed to put the football coach back onto the field. 

According to a joint stipulation filed in Washington state district court on Tuesday, Coach Kennedy must be reinstated "on or before March 15, 2023."

A spokeswoman for the school district told ABC News there are "areas where there are still questions" about how they will accommodate Kennedy's post-game prayers in light of the ruling.

For years, lower courts sided with the school district, but the Supreme Court's reversal signaled that courts could no longer necessarily favor secular interests over religious ones.

This is a right for everybody. It doesn't matter if you're this religion or that religion or have no faith whatsoever," Kennedy told ABC News. "Everybody has the same rights in America."

Coach Kennedy told CBN News his faith has sustained him through a long legal battle, now he's ready to get back on the field. 

"My faith has grown so much, not just in God and the closeness of that, but the faith through my family, we've become a lot tighter as a family of Christians, and also everybody in the nation. It's just great to see how God works in these ways," Kennedy said.

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