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Joseph Kennedy, the showboating Christian coach who led performative prayers at midfield after Bremerton High School football games, spent years demanding his old job back, and took his case all the way up to the Supreme Court… Yet now that he has the opportunity to work with the team again, he’s nowhere to be found, according to a column in the Seattle Times.

All of this was predictable. Before the Supreme Court issued its awful ruling in Kennedy v. Bremerton, a group of atheists argued that the entire case ought to be tossed out before the justices could weigh in on the merits.

An amicus brief filed by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, the Center for Inquiry, the American Humanist Association, and the Secular Coalition for America made the argument that the case was moot because Joseph Kennedy wouldn’t even benefit from a victory.

Kennedy had argued that he lost his job because he wanted to deliver a quiet Christian prayer at midfield after games, but he was persecuted because of that. All of that was exaggerated or untrue. He was never actually fired. The prayers weren’t “quiet.” And the concern was far more about the coercive nature of his performative prayers, not his ability to privately pray. But the only reason the Bremerton case was in front of the Supreme Court at all was because, theoretically, their decision was the only way Kennedy could regain his job.

The atheists argued the case was moot because a ruling in Kennedy’s favor wouldn’t change his situation… largely because Kennedy had already packed up, moved far away from Bremerton (Washington), and was never seriously going to become a football coach there again.

In 2020, Kennedy moved 2,800 miles from the Bremerton, Washington area to Pensacola, Florida. He sold his home in Washington. He purchased a home in Florida and established residency there. He and his wife are no longer employed in Washington. There can hardly be a realistic prospect that the assistant football coach position at Bremerton High School is the type of position that one picks up and moves across the country to accept. It is a year-round commitment that pays just $5,304. On these key facts alone, Kennedy cannot maintain an action for prospective relief against a school district in Washington.

That might seem like a basic point, but it threatened to render the entire case useless. If Kennedy wasn’t going to benefit from a victory, then he shouldn’t have legal standing. So why the hell was the Supreme Court on the verge of upending church/state separation law?

The mootness argument didn’t make a difference. Even legal experts didn’t seem to care. The New York Times‘ Adam Liptak said on an episode of “The Daily” that he went “to go out and visit [Kennedy] in Bremerton, Washington,” even though the audience was never told Kennedy no longer lives there.

The justices decided the case, anyway, effectively gutting the Establishment Clause and permitting state-sponsored religion.

But also included in the majority’s decision was a mandate for Kennedy to get his job back.

That’s what this was all about, wasn’t it? Kennedy won. Therefore he could have his coaching job back, and, yes, he could now pray at midfield after games without worrying about his job security.

According to the Seattle Times‘ Danny Westneat, however, even though the school has accommodated that ruling by extending Kennedy a job offer… Joseph Kennedy is nowhere to be found. He’s too busy being a conservative celebrity to actually do the low-paying job he claimed he wanted back.

“He’s had the paperwork for his reinstatement since August 8th, and we haven’t gotten so much as a phone call,” says Karen Bevers, spokesperson for Bremerton schools.

Instead, as the Bremerton Knights were prepping for the season in August, Kennedy was up in Alaska, meeting with former Vice President Mike Pence and evangelist Franklin Graham. On the eve of the first game, which the Knights won, Kennedy was in Milwaukee being presented with an engraved .22-caliber rifle at an American Legion convention.

It’s an increasingly surreal situation for the Bremerton schools. They were ordered to “reinstate Coach Kennedy to a football coaching position,” according to court documents. But the now-famous coach is out on the conservative celebrity circuit, continuing to tell a story about “the prayer that got me fired” — even though Bremerton never actually fired him.

He’s too busy lying about his supposed persecution in front of Christian audiences who love being lied to, and the biggest lie of all is that he ever gave a damn about coaching high school football. It was nothing more than a vehicle for him to proselytize.

The atheists had it right the entire time.

Kennedy had no intention of ever returning to the sidelines at Bremerton High School. But the conservative justices were all too eager to give Kennedy an undeserved victory because he was their tool to blow a gaping hole in the wall of separation between church and state.

The end result for the school is even more bizarre:

The effect of the court’s order is that Bremerton has to reinstate someone who didn’t apply for the job then and doesn’t appear eager for it now. It’s as if the justices wanted to script an ending for a Christian redemption movie. But real life isn’t cooperating.

That’s a fair assessment. Real life isn’t cooperating because Joseph Kennedy is a Christian liar who was backed by Christian liars and won a Supreme Court victory thanks to justices who perpetuated the Christian lies.

The student athletes? They were irrelevant.

The coaching gig? Kennedy didn’t care about it.

He knew damn well that if he could pretend to be a martyr for the cause, there would be honors bestowed upon him by the Christian Right regardless of how the case turned out. It was so predictable that atheists literally told the Supreme Court how it was going to play out in Bremerton. But because the Court has been overtaken by right-wing zealots, the facts simply didn’t matter.

As any high school coach could tell you, the job is a sacrifice. You don’t get paid much and it takes a lot of time, but you do it because you love the students. When Kennedy used his platform to advertise his religion, it was evident the students weren’t his main priority. That’s why no one should be shocked that, even though everyone he fought against is now legally obligated to bend over backwards to accommodate him, he’s moved on.

He never cared about the kids, the team, or the job. He only ever cared about himself.

A good coach would never do something like that. But it’s exactly what you’d expect from a conservative Christian.

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Hemant Mehta is the founder of FriendlyAtheist.com, a YouTube creator, podcast co-host, and author of multiple books about atheism. He can be reached at @HemantMehta.