After a seven-year legal battle that ended with a victory at the Supreme Court, Joe Kennedy will be back on the field Sept. 1 coaching football and taking a knee in prayer.
“I have been looking forward to this since the 2015 season,” Kennedy told The Daily Signal Tuesday. “I am praying for a fantastic fall for our Knights.”
In 2015, Kennedy lost his job as an assistant football coach in Bremerton, Washington, about 30 miles west of Seattle, for routinely taking a knee in prayer on the field after games.
From the time he began coaching at Bremerton High School in 2008, Kennedy said, he made a covenant with God to thank him in prayer at the 50-yard line at the end of each of the Knights’ games. Some team members joined the coach on the field, and no student or parent filed a formal complaint about the practice.
When the Bremerton School District learned of Kennedy’s routine, however, officials told him he no longer could pray silently after games, even by himself. But Kennedy kept the covenant he made with God, a decision that cost him his job.
From the start of the legal battle, Kennedy said, all he was asking for was a chance to return to the field as a coach and be allowed to thank God afterward. Now, he’ll have that opportunity.
“All Coach [Kennedy] ever wanted was to be able to kneel in prayer after football games,” Hiram Sasser, executive general counsel of First Liberty Institute, the nonprofit legal organization that represented the coach, told The Daily Signal.
“We’re thrilled he will be able to do so again,” Sasser said, adding that Kennedy’s Supreme Court victory “is important to all Americans.”
Now, Kennedy is inviting all Americans to join him Sept. 1 and take a knee to celebrate a national night of prayer.
Kennedy’s story of faith and determination captured the attention of the nation and compelled the football coach to write a book sharing his story and explaining why he chose to spend years in and out of courtrooms for the right to pray silently on the field after games. His book “Average Joe: The Coach Joe Kennedy Story” is due out Oct. 24.
“Those prayers I prayed on the 50-yard line after the Bremerton High School football games were never for attention, and certainly never to proselytize impressionable minors,” Kennedy writes. “As a 20-year Marine Corps veteran who fought in the first Gulf War, I simply took issue with my constitutional rights being assaulted—the rights I had risked my life to support and defend against when I took my oath of enlistment.”
Kennedy also details little-known stories about his troubled youth and his service in the Marines.
A movie about Kennedy’s life, also called “Average Joe,” is in production by GND Media Group, producer of the popular movie “God’s Not Dead.” A release date has not been announced.
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