Fired football coach Joe Kennedy, coming off a win in the Supreme Court after it affirmed he had the right to pray at his high school games in Washington state, said on Newsmax on Wednesday that he hasn't yet been invited back to his job, but he plans to keep praying when he returns to the field.
"I'm just taking a knee all by myself, to be clear by myself, because everybody gets so wound up when other people join," Kennedy, a former football coach in Bremerton, Washington, told Newsmax's "National Report." "It was a commitment that I made with God at the very beginning ... I'm going to give thanks on the 50-yard line after every game, win or lose."
Kennedy was a part-time football coach until 2015 in Bremerton, where the school district fired him and argued that he'd "made a spectacle" of prayers and speeches, that he'd invited students to join him, and that he courted the media's attention while acting as a government employee. Parents in the district also said their children felt that they were compelled to pray.
Kennedy said he "absolutely" wants to return to Bremerton, where his family and "everybody and everything I know" is located.
"We look forward to coming back and being in Bremerton as soon as possible," said Kennedy, adding that the idea that someone should have to hide their prayers "just drove me nuts, being a Marine and fighting for the Constitution."
Jeremy Dys, special counsel for litigation and communications for the First Liberty Institute, appeared on the program with Kennedy and said the United States is a more free place because Kennedy "stood up for the religious liberty of all Americans."
The district "violated his free speech rights, his ability to talk about his faith and to talk about what had happened to him," said Dys. "They violated his civil rights by firing him from his job when he took a knee in private prayer."
Further, the ruling means that teachers "do not have to shed their constitutional rights" to do their jobs, " Dys said.
"That means they won't be fired for wearing a hijab while they're a teacher," Dys said. "They won't be fired for wearing a crucifix around their neck, or perhaps for having ashes on their forehead on Ash Wednesday. They won't be fired if they take private prayer or pray over their lunch in the cafeteria. These are all things that Justice [Neil] Gorsuch says. It's just part of being in a republic."
Kennedy added that freedom of faith is "what the Constitution is all about. That's what the amendments are set for, the liberties of everyone in America, not just a few, but every single person. Nobody should have to hide what they believe in or get in trouble for just practicing their faith."
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