After Winning Case, Football Coach Returns to Field

A high school football coach in Washington state who was dismissed for silently praying on the field after games will return to the field on Friday.

The seven-year legal struggle over public prayer is resolved, and Coach Joe Kennedy will be able to return to his beloved job on September 1.

Kennedy’s Supreme Court victory in June 2022 was the climax of a campaign that began nearly eight years ago with the Bremerton high school football coach’s secret prayer on the 50-yard line.

He took a moment before games to pause and pray, but teammates ultimately began to join him in prayer at the 50-yard line following games.

The school district in Washington contended Kennedy’s religious speech could have the effect of pressuring other students to pray, later firing the assistant coach and setting off a legal battle that received nationwide attention from the media, Hall of Fame coaches and players, and even former President Donald Trump.

Now, Coach Kennedy is back and reportedly set to receive a $1.7 million settlement.

Following the Supreme Court’s ruling last summer, Kennedy told CBN News that 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 in the faith through my family. We’ve become a lot tighter as a family of Christians, as well as everybody in the nation. It’s just great to see how God works in these ways,” Kennedy said.

Mat Krause serves as counsel with the First Liberty Institute, a nonprofit law group that represented Coach Kennedy at the Supreme Court.

He told CBN’s Faith Nation this week that Kennedy’s win on the Supreme Court level has significant implications for other Americans.

“It threw out what has been called ‘The Lemon Test, which had been used for about 50 years by courts in America to restrict and inhibit public displays of religion,” he explained. “It’s a brand new day in regards to these displays of religion, such as Coach Kennedy kneeling at the 50-yard line. So it’s a golden age for religious liberty right now. And we are glad that Coach Kennedy gets to be on the field this Friday exercising those rights.

Krause adds that the fight for religious freedom in America is far from over.

“Somebody will try to enforce these issues and try to negate and take away some of our constitutional rights that we have. By no means is the battle over. It is for Coach Kennedy, but in the grander scheme of things, the battle is just beginning,” he shared.

After being reinstated by Bremerton, Kennedy told KOMO earlier this year that he was returning to the school because it means everything to him.

“A lot of it has to do with the principle of it. I stood up and fought to be a ‘knight’, and that meant everything to me,” he said. “I have the utmost respect for everybody to be able to speak their mind, and I just hope and pray that everybody in America starts doing that with each other.”

He added that he wants to coach football on his terms.

“Even if it’s just for that season, it’s just to be able to go back and be able to retire on my own terms instead of somebody else’s,” Kennedy told the outlet.

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