A football coach who was given his job back after the Supreme Court ruled he could pray on the field has resigned

BREMERTON, Wash. (AP) — A Washington state high school football coach who regained his job after the US Supreme Court ruled that he could pray on the field, resigned Wednesday after just one game.

Bremerton High School assistant coach Joe Kennedy made the announcement on his website, citing several reasons including that he had to take care of a sick family member out of state. He had lived in Florida full-time before the football season started last Friday.

“I believe the best way I can continue to advocate for constitutional and religious liberties is to work outside of the school system, so that’s what I will do,” Kennedy wrote. “I will continue to work to help people understand and embrace the historic verdict that lies at the heart of our case.”

In a statement, the Bremerton School District confirmed Kennedy had tendered his resignation. School officials declined to comment on his departure, saying they would not make any further statements as the resignation was a staff matter.

Kennedy had lost his job during a controversy over his post-game public prayers. He was back on the field Friday after the US Supreme Court ruled that his practice was protected by the Constitution.

Kennedy walked alone into midfield, knelt and prayed for about 10 seconds after his Bremerton High School football team defeated visiting Mount Douglas Secondary School 27-12 Friday night.

Kennedy had fought for his reinstatement for seven years but seemed more apprehensive than triumphant about his return.

It was his first game as a coach since 2015, when he was placed on leave after warnings from the school district, which eventually turned down a contract extension.

The district had asked Kennedy not to hold on-field prayers demonstratively or away from students, saying it was concerned that tolerating his public post-game prayers would indicate the government is pro-religion and therefore opposed to the separation of offends church and state.

Kennedy’s struggle to regain his job quickly became a cultural touchstone, one that pitted the religious freedoms of government employees against long-established principles protecting students from religious coercion.

He lost at every level of the court system until the merits of his case reached the US Supreme Court last year. The The conservative majority sided with himJudge Neil Gorsuch wrote: “The best of our traditions advise mutual respect and tolerance, not censorship and repression, of both religious and non-religious views.”


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