Coach who lost his job for praying on area kneels once more in first recreation after years of felony battles

BREMERTON, Wash. (AP) — An assistant excessive college soccer educate in Washington kingdom who misplaced his job at some point of a controversy over his public post-game prayers was once returned on the area Friday after the U.S. Supreme Court held his exercise was once included by way of the Constitution.

Joe Kennedy strode by myself to midfield, knelt and prayed for about 10 seconds after his Bremerton High School soccer crew beat travelling Mount Douglas Secondary School 27-12 Friday night.

Kennedy used to be no longer joined through any athletes or others on the almost empty field. There was once scattered applause from the modest crowd at Memorial Stadium.

Police and non-public protection guards have been on hand however there didn’t show up to be any issues or interruptions at some stage in or after the event.

FILE – Bremerton assistant soccer instruct Joe Kennedy, obscured at core in blue, is surrounded through Centralia High School soccer gamers as they kneel and pray with him on the area after their recreation towards Bremerton on Oct. 16, 2015, in Bremerton, Wash. After dropping his teaching job for refusing to cease kneeling in prayer with gamers and spectators on the area at once after soccer games, Kennedy will take his arguments earlier than the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday, April 25, 2022, pronouncing the Bremerton School District violated his First Amendment rights by means of refusing to let him proceed praying at midfield after games. (Meegan M. Reid/Kitsap Sun by means of AP, File)

FILE – Former Bremerton High School assistant soccer train Joe Kennedy stands on the area at Bremerton Memorial Stadium, Nov. 5, 2015. After the June 27, 2022 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in desire of the excessive college soccer coach’s proper to pray on the area after games, there have been predictions of sweeping penalties from throughout the ideological spectrum. But three months after the decision, there’s no signal that massive numbers of coaches are following Kennedy’s high-profile example. (Larry Steagall/Kitsap Sun with the aid of AP, File)

Kennedy had fought to be rehired for seven years however appeared greater anxious than successful about his return.

“Knowing that everybody’s watching for me to go do this sort of offers me a lot of angst in my stomach,” Kennedy stated earlier than the game. “People are going to freak out that I’m bringing God lower back into public schools.”

It was once his first recreation as train because 2015, when he used to be positioned on depart after warnings from the faculty district, which finally declined to renew his contract.

The district had requested Kennedy to preserve any on-field praying non-demonstrative or apart from students, pronouncing they have been worried that tolerating his public post-game prayers would recommend authorities endorsement of religion, in violation of the separation of church and state.

Kennedy’s combat to get his job lower back rapidly grew to be a cultural touchstone, pitting the non secular liberties of authorities personnel towards longstanding standards defending college students from non secular coercion.

He misplaced at each courtroom stage till the deserves of his case reached the U.S. Supreme Court ultimate year. The conservative majority sided with him, with Justice Neil Gorsuch writing “the great of our traditions tips mutual admire and tolerance, no longer censorship and suppression, for spiritual and nonreligious views alike.”

The prison combat changed Kennedy’s existence in methods he in no way anticipated. He has a e book coming out in October referred to as “Average Joe,” with a quantity of launch occasions planned. He seemed at a 2016 rally for Donald Trump, and he and his spouse currently had dinner with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a GOP presidential hopeful who requested for his assist on the marketing campaign trail.

“He’s like, ‘I desire you to be on my trust advisory board.’ And I’m like, ‘Let me get again to you on that,’” Kennedy recalled. “And he simply invited me to Iowa and he calls me and he says, ‘Hey, I virtually want to know, are you in my camp or not?’ And I said, ‘Well, I’m sorry. My loyalty is to Trump.’”

DeSantis’ marketing campaign did no longer return messages searching for comment.

Kennedy, 54, is grappling with whether or not soccer nevertheless matches into his life. After spending so lengthy attempting to get his job back, Kennedy stated he felt a obligation to return to Washington nation for the part-time job that paid him much less than $5,000.

But he and his spouse stay in Florida now — he has been staying with a buddy in Bremerton — and he doesn’t be aware of if he will maintain teaching past Friday.

“So many human beings are asking, ‘What’s next?’ And I have no idea,” Kennedy said. “Do I continue to be for the season? Do I remain for a couple of games? Is this the solely game? We don’t know.”

Two days earlier than the game, Kennedy rode round city on a borrowed bicycle and then took the discipline for afternoon exercise sporting a sleeveless shirt with the phrase “essential” on the front. The letter “t” resembled a cross.

He led gamers in catching and tackling drills. He caught a hand in his pocket and retrieved folded exercise plans. Jogging previous a participant in line for warm-ups, Kennedy threw a playful block, knocking the pupil again a yard.

“We appear ahead to transferring previous the distraction of this almost 8-year prison warfare so that our college neighborhood can focal point on what things most: imparting our teens the great schooling possible,” the announcement said.

Before Friday’s game, it wasn’t clear if Kennedy’s return would draw protests. The Freedom From Religion Foundation, which works to maintain authorities and faith separate, positioned a billboard message close to the faculty that read: “Wishing Bremerton High School a safe, secular & profitable faculty year.”

In 2015, a dozen participants of the Satanic Temple of Seattle went to a varsity football recreation at Bremerton High School, many dressed in hooded black robes or masks. Students jeered them, held up crosses, threw liquid and chanted “Jesus.”

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