A Washington State high school football coach, who was fired for praying on the field after games, reached a $2 million settlement with the school board and will be reinstated.
According to FOX 13 in Seattle, Joe Kennedy, coach of the Bremerton High School football team, found himself in hot water with the administration for his practice of quick prayer at the 50-yard-line after games.
Initially praying by himself, players from the team soon voluntarily joined Kennedy to give praise to God. Kennedy would later say that “a few players came up and asked what I was doing after the games. I said I was thanking God for what they did. They asked if they could join me. I told them it’s a free country and they can do what they want.”
A free country, or so he thought. Refusing to bend the knee to the school’s administration and their insistence that he stop, Kennedy was fired for staying true to his faith.
Kennedy was not ready to give up though, taking his case all the way to the top. The Supreme Court ruled 6-3 in Joe Kennedy’s favor in August 2022, with the judge’s ruling that the First Amendment protected his right to pray on the field.
The court later ruled in October 2022 that the Bremerton School District must hire him back by March 2023.
In a statement on its website dated March 6, Bremerton High School said that Kennedy would be returning as an assistant coach for the 2023 season.
The First Amendment protects free speech and the free practice of religion, merely prohibiting the federal government from establishing an official national religion. The Supreme Court had ruled in Engel v. Vitale (1969)that public school-sponsored prayer violates the Establishment Clause, even if the prayer is voluntary.
Kennedy’s cause was immediately championed by Christians and free speech supporters on the right, and it became a major political story for some time.
“They told me that I was not allowed to pray with the kids, and if I wanted to pray, I had to wait ’til every single person has changed and left. And I had to go and pray out on the 50 all alone,” Kennedy told the crowd.
Chop this up as a win for the good guys for a change.