A high school football coach who had taught at Bremerton High School since 2008 was fired after leading his players in prayer.
Joseph Kennedy had a post-game tradition of praying on the 50-yard line. When his players noticed what he was doing after every game, they started joining him.
The school district asked to coach to stop the prayer as well as his religious talks before firing him in 2015.
Kennedy’s contract reportedly ran out and he decided not to reapply for the position, according to the Seattle Times.
Instead, he filed a lawsuit in protest of the termination.
The coach’s lawyer, First Liberty Institute, then escalated the case to the Supreme Court, which ruled that Kennedy was protected by the first amendment.
Rep. Justice Neil Gorsuch said via the Settle Times: “The Constitution and the best of our traditions counsel mutual respect and tolerance, not censorship and suppression, for religious and nonreligious views alike.”
Kennedy said in a statement via the Times: “This is just so awesome. All I’ve ever wanted was to be back on the field with my guys. This is just me thanking God for 15 seconds after a football game.”
The football coach now wants to move on from the ordeal and said that he intended to pray alone.
Washington’s Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction said in a statement: “It remains illegal and unethical for public school employees to coerce, pressure, persuade, or force students, players, staff, or other participants to engage in any religious practice as a condition of playing, employment, belonging, or participation.
The Bremerton school board reportedly voted unanimously to accept the settlement that sees the coach get awarded $1.7 million.
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