BREMERTON, Wash. - The praying coach who put Bremerton School District in the national spotlight after fighting for his right to pray on the football field is making waves again.
This time in an op-ed on FOX News, Coach Joe Kennedy complains his old employer is dragging their feet to reinstate his job when all he wants to do is get back to what he loves.
It has been seven years since Kennedy was on the football field, taking a knee in prayer after home games. He writes he is ready to get back on the field and exercise what the U.S. Supreme Court codified as his right to religious liberty, but he complains the school district is stalling him.
Kennedy’s op-ed published this Friday, writing he is eager to hit the field and get back to coaching and winning.
But he complains the Bremerton School District will not agree to a face-to-face meeting with his attorneys to close out the lawsuit, and he worries the tactics will keep him from returning to the job he lost by next spring.
"I want to resolve this as soon as possible, but the district — after two months of refusing to meet face-to-face and having to be ordered by the judge to meet with us — still has not identified anyone in the district who is authorized to resolve the remaining issues and get me back on the sideline," he wrote.
The district paints a different picture, claiming their correspondence to Kennedy’s attorneys have yet to respond to any of their letters seeking resolution.
"(The district) will of course abide by the district court's order to talk with Kennedy and his lawyers," wrote the school district's attorneys. "For that process to be productive, Kennedy and his lawyers would need to identify what issues, if any, remain in dispute."
"He won his court case," said lifelong Kitsap resident Davida Clyde. "I think it was his constitutional right."
Folks like Clyde fully support Kennedy’s right to exercise his religion, but not everyone in Bremerton see it the same way.
"I think it is very harmful to our reputation, because it kind of makes us look as though we are all zealots here, and I don’t appreciate that branding," said Julia, who works downtown.
Clyde wonders what returning to the filed will be like after so many years gone by.
"I don’t know why he would want to come back to somewhere where he wasn’t wanted," she said.
Kennedy says he does not want to parachute into next season after it has already started. He is hoping his attorneys and the district can square away any final issues, so he can be at Bremerton High School with his team next spring.