The Christian high school football Coach Joe Kennedy has gotten his job back after being fired for praying after his games.
Seven years after he was fired for praying after his high school football games, Coach Joe Kennedy is finally returning to the sidelines again.
Coach Kennedy’s History
Kennedy initially began coaching high school football at Bremerton High School in Washington state back in 2008, according to The Spokesman Review. As soon as he started coaching, the devoutly Christian Kennedy launched a tradition of taking a knee at the 50-yard line and praying by himself after each game. This tradition grew over the years as players and fans began to join him.
As the years went on, officials with Bremerton School District began to have fears that a private group prayer conducted at a public school could be seen as an establishment of religion by the state. After the 2015 season, the school district suspended Kennedy and ultimately fired him.
In 2016, Kennedy filed a lawsuit against the school district, claiming that his First Amendment right to religious freedom was violated with his firing. He took the case all the way to the Supreme Court, which ruled in his favor by a 6-3 vote last year.
“Both the Free Exercise and Free Speech Clauses of the First Amendment protect expressions like Mr. Kennedy’s,” Gorsuch wrote in the decision, according to ABC7. “Nor does a proper understanding of the Amendment’s Establishment Clause require the government to single out private religious speech for special disfavor.”
“The Constitution and the best of our traditions counsel mutual respect and tolerance, not censorship and suppression, for religious and nonreligious views alike,” he added.
“This is just so awesome,” Kennedy told The Christian Post after the Supreme Court ruled in his favor. “All I’ve ever wanted was to be back on the field with my guys. I am incredibly grateful to the Supreme Court, my fantastic legal team, and everyone who has supported us. I thank God for answering our prayers and sustaining my family through this long battle.”
Despite everything that he’s gone through over the past eight years, Kennedy still wanted his job back. His wish came true on March 8, when he was officially reinstated at Bremerton High School. Though he likely won’t actually return to the field until spring football begins in May, Kennedy is overjoyed that he’ll have the opportunity to keep doing what he loves.
“I’ll be there whenever the head coach needs me there,” Kennedy told My Northwest.
Kennedy went on to admit that he’s a little bit nervous about returning to his old job.
“I don’t feel like I missed the step as far as training young men to be better young men and getting the most out of them. That should be 100% natural,” Kennedy said. “It’s just all the unknowns of stepping back where you’re in the public eye and just hoping everybody will, everything will fade really quickly. And everybody can just move on to what’s going on with the football season.”
Kennedy Will Keep Praying
Kennedy also fully intends to restart his tradition of praying at the 50-yard line after his games this season.
“I’m just going to continue to do what I’ve always been doing,” he said. “I’m just going to go where God’s going to lead me.”
What happened to Kennedy was incredibly unfair, so we’re glad that the Supreme Court ruled in his favor. God bless him for fighting this battle for Christians everywhere, and we pray that he has a fantastic football season this year!