by Kate Anderson
High School Assistant Coach Joe Kennedy said he’s nervous about returning to the football field Friday after winning a years-long battle in the Supreme Court in 2022 allowing him to pray on the field, according to an interview with the Associated Press.
Bremerton High School, located in Washington state, is having its opening game of the season and it will be the first time Kennedy has coached since 2015 after he was suspended by Bremerton School District (BSD) for refusing to stop praying on the field, according to the AP. Kennedy expressed that he was nervous about people’s expectations and the reaction to him praying after the game.
“Knowing that everybody’s expecting me to go do this kind of gives me a lot of angst in my stomach,” Kennedy said, according to the AP. “People are going to freak out that I’m bringing God back into public schools.”
The coaching staff and team have been “amazing” and are “all focused on the kids and making sure this is about them and their achievements on the field,” Kennedy told the Daily Caller News Foundation. He had been “unsure” about how his relationship with the district would be, but explained that he’s “thankful that we fought the good fight to get to today- my first game back on the field.”
“I’m looking forward to taking a knee and thanking God for bringing us through this battle,” Kennedy said.
Kennedy had agreed to stop praying with players prior to his suspension, but the district determined that him praying alone was not acceptable and decided not to renew his contract. Kennedy filed suit in 2016 and lost in several courts before reaching the Supreme Court, according to the AP.
The justices ruled in 2022 that the coach had the right to publicly pray and also discarded the 50-year-old “Lemon Test” that has traditionally been used by courts to determine government violations of the Establishment Clause.
BSD was ordered by a district court in November to reinstate Kennedy as a coach before March 15, 2023, and came to a nearly $2 million settlement, according to the Seattle Times. Kennedy and his wife now live in Florida, and he said he isn’t sure how long he will keep coaching, according to the AP.
“We’ll make some decisions of what’s next in our life, because obviously it’s not going to be football forever,” Kennedy said. “We’d like to do — I don’t know — maybe some ministry or something.”
BSD did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.
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Kate Anderson is a reporter at Daily Caller News Foundation.
Photo “Joe Kennedy” by First Liberty.