A high school football coach from Washington state who took his fight to pray on the field to the U.S. Supreme Court has resigned from his position at the district.
Joe Kennedy was fired in 2015 over his post-game prayers at the 50-yard line. In 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that his dismissal was unjust, and ordered him reinstated. Last week, he made his first appearance as an assistant coach for Bremerton High School.
On Wednesday, he announced in a statement that he had resigned.
“He cited multiple reasons for his resignation including taking care of an ailing family member out of state. Kennedy delivered his resignation to the district earlier today,” said the news release on his website.
“I believe I can best continue to advocate for constitutional freedom and religious liberty by working from outside the school system so that is what I will do. I will continue to work to help people understand and embrace the historic ruling at the heart of our case. As a result of our case, we all have more freedom, not less. That should be celebrated and not disrespected,” Kennedy said in the statement.
“As I have demonstrated, we must make a stand for what we believe in. In my case, I made a stand to take a knee. I encourage all Americans to make their own stand for freedom and our right to express our faith as we see fit. I appreciate the people of Bremerton, the coaches, staff and especially the students and wish them all well. Bremerton will always be home,” he said.
According to the Seattle Times, Kennedy had already returned to his home in Pensacola, Florida, where he and his wife had moved after his dismissal from Bremerton and while his case was making its way through the court system.
“I’m done,” he said.
“I knew it wasn’t going to be a picnic and it wasn’t,” he said, adding that his “role and responsibilities” during Friday’s game were “not what I signed up for.”
In his resignation letter obtained by The Seattle Times, Kennedy said, “It is apparent that the reinstatement ordered by the Supreme Court will not be fully followed after a series of actions meant to diminish my role and single me out in what I can only believe is retaliation by the school district.”
Kennedy said there are issues related to his father-in-law’s health that prompted his departure.
After the game, Kennedy posted an image on Facebook of himself kneeling in prayer at the 50-yard line.
“That’s another W! After an 8 year legal battle culminating in a win at the Supreme Court, I returned to Bremerton High School as an Assistant Coach last night and prayed at midfield, exercising my Constitutional Right. Happy to say we fought the good fight and finished the race. (2 Timothy 4:7),” he posted.
Kennedy later spoke about his prayer.
“I said ‘thank you’ probably 30 times,” Kennedy said, according to the Kitsap Sun. “I had no other words.”
On Friday, he indicated his future was uncertain.
“That’s what I’m leaving up to God. We haven’t even talked about it,” he said as he stood with his wife, Denise.
“Tonight was the milestone and where we wanted to get to. We fought eight years. What we asked for from the Supreme Court and all the courts was just to be able to be a coach and be able to pray after a football game. Both of those were accomplished and I’ve gotten what I asked for. Anything beyond that is just a plus and we’re going to let God direct us and our family direct us,” he said.
Karen Bevers of the Bremerton School District said the resignation would be acted upon at the school board’s meeting this week, according to KOMO.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.