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Coach who got job back after Supreme Court ruled he could pray on field quits, claims retaliation

Washington coach Joe Kennedy, who was reinstated last year after a long court battle for praying on the field, has resigned and is claiming retaliation.

Joe Kennedy, a Washington state high school football coach who won his Supreme Court battle last year after fighting for his right to pray on the gridiron, said Wednesday he has resigned from his position after only one game. 

In a statement obtained by Fox News Digital from the First Liberty Institute that included Kennedy's resignation letter, he claims that the Bremerton School District retaliated against him after he was reinstated. 

"[I]t 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 wrote. "Therefore, I am tendering my immediate resignation." 

Kennedy said other reasons factored into his decision to step down from his assistant football coaching position at Bremerton High School, including that he needed to care for an ailing family member out of state. He had been living full-time in Florida, and before the first game last Friday he said he didn't know if he'd continue coaching.

FAITH FIRST: COACH JOE KENNEDY TEASES HIS NEXT ACT AFTER HIS SUPREME COURT VICTORY AND RETURN TO FOOTBALL

"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," Kennedy wrote. "I will continue to work to help people understand and embrace the historic ruling at the heart of our case."

Fox News Digital has reached out to Bremerton School District for response to Kennedy’s claims of retaliation. 

Kennedy lost his job in 2015 and waged a seven-year legal battle to get it back. School district officials had asked him to keep any on-field praying non-demonstrative or apart from students, saying they were concerned that tolerating his public post-game prayers would suggest government endorsement of religion, in violation of the separation of church and state.

He insisted on praying publicly at midfield after games, and the district placed him on leave and declined to renew his contract.

Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court's conservative majority sided with him, with Justice Neil Gorsuch writing that "the best of our traditions counsel mutual respect and tolerance, not censorship and suppression, for religious and nonreligious views alike."

Hiram Sasser, Executive General Counsel at First Liberty Institute, which represented Kennedy during his legal battle, said the organization would investigate Kennedy’s claims of retaliation. 

"We have come to learn of serious allegations of retaliation against coach Kennedy by the Bremerton School District," Sasser said. "They’ve done everything they can to make him feel unwelcome. We are going to investigate the situation to determine whether further legal action is necessary." 

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