Christian Coach Under Investigation for Post-Game Prayers

KennedyBREMERTON, Wash. — A football coach in Washington is under investigation for praying on the field after games.

Joe Kennedy, the assistant head coach for the varsity team at Bremerton High School and the head coach for the junior varsity team, takes time after each game to pray at the 50-yard line. According to reports, Kennedy prays of his own volition and sometimes prays alone, but there are also instances when students and players decide to join him.

“I never asked anyone. They just all showed up one day and the next thing I know, the other team was showing up with us,” he told reporters this week. “I spent 20 years in the Marine Corps, and it’s been about protecting the freedom of other people. It’s about the freedom, and people can believe whatever they want.”

“I’m just exercising my right,” Kennedy continued. “The competition is over and I just thank God for every one of these young men that are out here.”

While it is not known how the matter turned into an investigation, a letter from Superintendent Aaron Leavell outlines that the district is currently reviewing how “staff are trained to learn about and comply with” its religious activities policy.

“The Bremerton School District respects and has an obligation to protect the rights of all students and staff, including those fundamental rights protected by the First Amendment,” he wrote.

The policy states that “[a]s a matter of individual liberty, a student may of his/her own volition engage in private, non-disruptive prayer at any time not in conflict with learning activities. School staff shall neither encourage nor discourage a student from engaging in non-disruptive oral or silent prayer or any other form of devotional activity.”

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The investigation is set to conclude this week. In the meantime, a support rally has been set for Friday at Bremerton High School.

Some parents state that they don’t see a problem with the prayers as long as students are not required to join Kennedy.

“It’s American. It’s freedom of religion, not freedom from religion,” one parent told local television station KING. “If they don’t like it, they can [choose] not to participate.”

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  • lee metzger

    The NFL does this after games. And the problem is??????

    • Ralph Spoilsport 11

      The problem is when public school officials do it — public schools aren’t “Christian” schools, and it’s coercive when the coach, who decides who plays and who sits on the bench, wants you to pray with him.

      • Our constitutional rights are not null and void just because you work at a public school. The 1st amendment did not state any exceptions and government can not override it.

        • Ralph Spoilsport 11

          Our constitutional rights are not null and void just because you work at a public school.

          Sorry, when they’re working for the state, employees are constrained by the first amendment’s “no establishment” clause, in order to protect the religious rights of students and their parents.

          The 1st amendment did not state any exceptions and government can not override it.

          Exactly my point. A public school coach is an agent of the state when he’s acting in his capacity as coach.

          • Josey

            More hogwash!

      • Jerry_In_IL

        What a crock!

        • Ralph Spoilsport 11

          Google Borden v. East Brunswick High School.

      • Liz Litts

        No one was forced to pray! Read and listen stupid!

        • Liz Litts

          and it makes no differnce I am sure who prays and who dosen’t –its just that little POS whining about non-exsistant ‘bulling” –he just wanted his ten seconds of ‘fame.

          • Ralph Spoilsport 11

            and it makes no differnce I am sure who prays and who dosen’t

            How do you know? Let’s say a Jewish player doesn’t pray with the coach, and the coach keeps him benched for a couple of games. How does the kid know if the coach is retaliating or not? He can’t know one way or the other.

          • Josey

            you are full of it!!!

        • Ralph Spoilsport 11

          No one was forced to pray!

          That doesn’t matter. Public school officials can’t conduct prayers during public school events. They don’t have the authority to teach other people’s children what religion they ought to follow, and anyone who wants that has no respect for genuine religious rights.

          • Josey

            Big deal, he prayed and gave thanks to God for the players after the game was over, let’s hang him up and burn him to a post for caring for these players enough to pray for them and give thanks to God. He didn’t force anyone else to join him, if students or whomever decides to join him in prayer that is their God given right and their individual choice!

      • Josey

        Give me a break, your comment is foolish, this coach didn’t force anyone to pray with him, as the article clearly states.

  • Pam Nowell

    OK. NOW tell us about all the problems this praying has caused over the last few years!

  • OhSoGood

    If he were muslim christian would call new laws.

    • When you cannot compete, your only recourse is complaining. The
      humanist religion has nothing to offer that expresses thanks for a game
      completed. Humanism has nothing to say to anyone on the 50 yard line.
      They do, however, want to silence the voice that says a heartfelt prayer
      of thanks, because that lone voice testifies eloquently that they are
      completely wrong. Supposing that muslims would want to pray too is completely hypothetical – Islam frowns on sport (except cricket, for some reason) and the fatalism of what they believe does not encourage thankfulness towards their capricious notion of God. If they do feel free to bow to Mecca after their sport, the only harm in that is to themselves, as they side with the enemies of freedom.

  • FoJC_Forever

    In America: You can freely kill a baby with government and society’s approval, go to prison for putting a noose on a statue, and be investigated for praying in a field.

  • Josey

    We live in an upside down world where evil is called good and good called evil, woe unto those who do these things. Now is the day of salvation, repent while there is God’s grace to do so, time is short. Jesus is coming, our redemption is near.

  • If he did nothing to invite or demand participation then there is no problem period each individual that joined him did it of their own volition as is their right…this separation of church and state issue has become a club to silence Christians in the public square …you rarely if ever see them take on Islam and prayer rugs in public ……. in many schools when there is a class on Islam the curriculum requires the student pretend he/she is a Muslim and to recite Islamic prayers and other Islamic sayings …not even a peep out of those that are concerned about christian prayer in schools …

  • The Skeptical Chymist

    There can be no freedom of religion without freedom from government-imposed religion. In this case, the football coach is an agent of the government, and to protect his students freedom of religion, he must refrain from endorsing any religious activity or from criticizing religious beliefs during the times when he is performing his assigned duties. He can lead group prayers when he is not being paid by the taxpayers. But during his acts as a government employee, he cannot.

    • Matthew T. Mason

      There can be no freedom of religion without freedom from government-imposed religion.

      And where is that happening?

  • respectourdifferences

    I wonder how long it will take before people finally realize that public school employees are not allowed to promote religious beliefs as part of their job?