High school football coach, fired 7 years ago for praying after games, gets his job back

  • by:
  • Source: The Blaze
  • 03/15/2023

The public high school assistant football coach in Washington state whose contract wasn't renewed because the district disapproved of his postgame prayers and whose First Amendment case went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, where he emerged victorious, has finally been given his old coaching job back.

It's been a long road for Coach Joe Kennedy, his family, and his supporters. In 2008, Kennedy began coaching football at Bremerton High School in Bremerton, Washington, located west of Seattle, across Puget Sound. That year, Kennedy, a devout Christian, began a tradition of walking over to the 50-yard line, taking a knee, and praying by himself after each game. However, his personal prayer time soon attracted other participants, as players and fans began joining him.

But officials with Bremerton School District worried that the private group prayer conducted at a public school constituted an establishment of religion by the state. In 2015, they first suspended and then ultimately fired Kennedy after he refused to stop hosting the postgame prayer.

The following year, Kennedy sued the district for violating his First Amendment right to religious freedom. Though Kennedy did not see many victories in lower-level courts, he ultimately prevailed in the highest court in the land, when SCOTUS voted 6-3 last year to confirm that the district had violated his religious rights, so long as no student or player was ever pressured to participate in his prayer ritual.

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