Joe Kennedy, the persecuted Christian who was a high school football coach in Washington State who was fired for praying at games with the voluntary participation of many team members, has finally finished his legal saga and achieved a massive victory for religious liberty in America.
That’s because Coach Kennedy now has, after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of him in August 2022, finally reached a $2 million settlement with the school board behind his unjust termination and will now be reinstated as a coach.
The Supreme Court found in August of last year that the First Amendment protected his right to pray on the field and then a court ruled in October 2022 that the Bremerton School District in Washington State, the one that fired him, must hire him back by March 2023. Bremerton High School posted a statement to its website on March 6th in which it said that he would be an assistant coach for the 2023 football season. That statement said:
“Mr. Kennedy will be an assistant football coach for Bremerton High School for the 2023 season. Mr. Kennedy has completed human resources paperwork and we are awaiting the results of his fingerprinting and background check. Mr. Kennedy will need to complete all training required by WIAA.”
The statement added, “As with any other assistant coach, Mr. Kennedy will be included in coaching staff communication and meetings, spring football practice and other off-season football activities.”
Further, Fox 13 reports that “On March 6, the district announced it reached an agreement to settle Kennedy’s attorney fees for $1,775,000. The settlement will be presented to the school board on March 16, where they need to approve it.”
So Coach Kennedy is getting a nearly $2 million settlement, is getting his old job back, and will finally get back to being a coach again. Rev. Franklin Graham cheered Coach Kennedy’s reinstatement in a post on Facebook, saying:
I am glad to hear that Joe Kennedy has finally been reinstated as a football coach at the Washington state high school he was dismissed from for praying on the field after games back in 2015. His case went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court where last summer justices made a 6-3 ruling in his favor. Coach Kennedy said, “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.” This is great news! I hope that Coach Kennedy will continue to kneel in prayer—on and off the field—and that this win will protect and encourage others in the same situation!
The First Liberty Institute, an organization devoted to defending religious liberty in America, issued a similar message, saying, “We are thrilled that Bremerton and Coach Kennedy are back together and we hope they go undefeated.”
Justice Gorsuch, who wrote the majority opinion for the court in the case Coach Kennedy won in 2022, said in the opinion that:
“Kennedy prayed during a period when school employees were free to speak with a friend, call for a reservation at a restaurant, check email, or attend to other personal matters. He offered his prayers quietly while his students were otherwise occupied. Still, the Bremerton School District disciplined him anyway,” wrote Justice Neil Gorsuch for the majority.
“Both the Free Exercise and Free Speech Clauses of the First Amendment protect expressions like Mr. Kennedy’s. … The Constitution and the best of our traditions counsel mutual respect and tolerance, not censorship and suppression, for religious and nonreligious views alike.”
Watch Coach Kennedy discuss religious liberty here:
Featured image credit: screengrab from embedded video
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