Crowd Joins Christian Coach on Field for Prayer After District Bans Student Participation

Kennedy Prayer Compressed
Photo Credit: KIRO-TV

BREMERTON, Wash. — A Washington football coach was surrounded by members of his football team, the opposing team and scores of supporters throughout his community on Friday as he knelt briefly to thank God at the conclusion of his school’s homecoming game.

As previously reported, Joe Kennedy, the assistant head coach for the varsity team at Bremerton High School and the head coach for the junior varsity team, had been prohibited by the district from allowing students to join him in his seven-year prayer practice, and planned to pray solo after last week’s game. But supporters wouldn’t have it.

“It’s ridiculous that he got in trouble at all,” Bremerton High School senior Cory Flournoy told the Seattle Times. “The students basically support the coach regardless of their religious beliefs.”

When Kennedy knelt down to pray at the 50-yard line at the conclusion of the homecoming game, he realized that he wasn’t alone.

“All of a sudden I feel all these bodies around me and I’m hoping they’re not kids,” he told reporters following the incident as he began to cry.

But it was—along with many others who had come off the bleachers to join him as he gave thanks to God.

“Lord, I thank you for these kids and the blessing you’ve given me with them,” Kennedy prayed. “We believe in the game, we believe in competition and we can come into it as rivals and leave as brothers.”

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As previously reported, Kennedy said that when he began the practice in 2008, then praying on his own, several team members approached him and asked what he was doing.

“I was thanking God for you guys,” Kennedy recalls responding. “Then a couple said they were Christians and asked if they could join. I responded, ‘It’s a free country, you can do whatever you want to do.’”

He said that he never asked students to pray with him, but some desired to, including those from the opposing team.

“They just all showed up one day and the next thing I know, the other team was showing up with us,” Kennedy said.

However, last month, the Bremerton School District launched an investigation into the coach’s practices, and soon sent a letter outlining that some aspects of his religious expression must discontinue. It noted that Kennedy not only prays at the conclusion of each game, but also prays in the locker room with students and staff.

While Superintendent Aaron Leavell acknowledged that “[e]ach activity has been voluntary” and that Kennedy has not “actively encouraged or required participation,” he asserted that the practices were still unconstitutional. He laid out rules so that the district would decrease its chances of a lawsuit, stating that while Kennedy may engage in religious activity, “students may not be allowed to join such activity.”

But although Kennedy agreed to discontinue the locker room prayer, his attorneys with the Texas-based Liberty Institute stated that he has done nothing wrong in seeking to pray by himself at the conclusion of each game. They opined there is neither any constitutional violation in permitting students to join.

Liberty Institute sent a demand letter to the Bremerton School District last Wednesday, advising that Kennedy planned to pray after the homecoming game on Friday, and asking that it rescind its restrictions. However, the district did not do so, but rather forwarded the matter to its attorneys, who advised that “violations cannot be tolerated.”

Attorney Jeffrey Ganson contested Liberty Institute’s understanding of the case, contending that Kennedy had invited other coaches to join him on the field prior to the district’s investigation. He also noted that Kennedy had used the words “Lord” and “amen” in his prayers, despite Liberty Institute’s assertions that the invocations are not religion-specific.

“[A]ny overt actions on Mr. Kennedy’s part, appearing to any reasonable observer to endorse even voluntary, student-initiated prayer while he is on duty as a district-paid coach would amount to district endorsement of religion in violation of the Establishment Clause,” Ganson wrote.

But area citizens see the matter differently.

“We have a coach who cares enough to pray about our kids,” parent Julie Cox told local television station KIRO-TV.

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  • Frank

    Praise God! Pray on as you have been. No matter what any man says.

    • Biker Bob

      you friggin’ nailed it Frank!!!!!

  • “he asserted that the practices were still unconstitutional. ”

    No! They weren’t. A person can say this practice has been made illegal–in this generation–but not unconstitutional. The “establishment clause” has been grafted into current laws [sic]; however, they’ve never been part of the constitution.

    • Tom in Raleigh

      Constitutional law is based on decisions from lawsuits. Thusly unconstitutional or legal.

      In this case the law is extremely clear, and this coaches actions were unconstitutional.

      • JohninRedding

        I doubt it but if that is so it is time to push the limits. This country’s society is going down the drain and a stand needs to be made. Now is the time.

        • Tom in Raleigh

          Pushing the limits in this case would likely result in a lost lawsuit and a major loss of funds for the district.

          The best, most responsible course of action would be for Kennedy to come into compliance with the law. Otherwise the district will have no choice but to fire him.

          • jmichael39

            In other words, give up his darned religious liberties because people like you say he should. Well screw that. You wanna put me in jail? take my home? Make me lose my job? Give it your best shot. I will NOT deny my faith or my constitutional right to freely express my faith no matter what laws people like you have concocted or what activist judges have decided the constitution should mean this month. Go ahead, man, make your play. See what happens in this country. Maybe you’ll be happy with the results. Maybe enough of you will come together and force our country into a caste system and place us Christians at the bottom. Give it a shot.

          • Tom in Raleigh

            Obeying constitutional law does not mean that he gives up his religious liberties. It simply means that when acting on behalf of the government, Kennedy must remain neutral towards religion.

            Are you a government employee? If so, while on the job, I will fight for you to remain neutral.

            Not? Have at it man. Shout it from the rooftops. I don’t want you to lose your job or your home. Furthermore, I will defend your right to believe everything and anything you so desire.

          • jmichael39

            What constitutional law is that, Tom? Perhaps the Tinker case where the court said, “It can hardly be argued that either students or teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.”

            Obviously since Tinker school districts have won virtually every lower court case concerning students and/or teachers regarding their rights. But Tinker has never been overruled by the SCOTUS. So who’s really violating constitutional law, this teacher and the students or those judges who simply ignore the Tinker ruling?

          • Tom in Raleigh

            Not familiar with Borden vs East Brunswick? You should check it out.

            Coach Kennedy will not win this case.

          • jmichael39

            You assume too much, Tom. I’m quite familiar with Borden…where the coach was banned from participating in STUDENT led prayers. The circumstances are utterly different. No one is leading anything. Coach Kennedy is simply exercising his own right to express his faith. He’s not asking anyone to join him. Everyone is doing it of their own accord. Not one person is assuming a position of leading anything. You can’t accuse a man of ‘leading’ anyone when they voluntarily join him in what he is choosing to do on his own. You don’t have to like what he’s doing. But there is no comparison to Borden. And I dare you to prove otherwise.

          • Tom in Raleigh

            Coach Kennedy was leading the the prayers. He was then told to stop.

            Coaxhes and teachers can’t lead or prticipate in prayers because it is a form of coercion.

            Whether you like it or not, there no legal precedent that would lead us to beleive that the Coach could even get close to winning this case. He won’t.

            I know you don’t like it, but that is how it is.

            The coach could have simply prayed in his mind…but he wanted to make a public show of it while on the job. That won’t fly, the district got good legal advice and took appropriate action to prevent a lawsuit that they would have lost…and would have cost them a lot of money.

          • jmichael39

            Read the article dude. He was NOT “leading” anything. You don’t like that he was praying. I get it. You don’t like that others joined him without even being asked to. I get it. You want his life ruined because he chose to express his faith in public. I get it.

            I know you don’t like it but the case I’ve quoted twice has never been overruled by any other SCOTUS case. So yes, there IS legal precedent. And because he was not leading squat or coercing ANYONE to do anything by any definition of that word, he most assuredly can win this case. Will he? Who the heck knows…surely not you or I…and frankly why do you even care? Are you that scared that our youth might actually CHOOSE to believe in a God you CHOOSE not to believe in? Or are you just that arrogant that you can’t tolerate that someone actually believes differently than you do and actually chooses to express those beliefs openly?

          • Tom in Raleigh

            Originally, he was leading prayers. He was told to stop. It then became a personal prayer, which is still illegal.

            I am not at all concerned with who joined or why, nor have I given my opinion. Coaches and teachers while on the job, cannot legally pray in front of students, nor participate in prayers with them.

            Coaches and teachers leading prayer is viewed, in most cases, as subtle coercion.

            I couldn’t care less which of the many gods available to them students choose to worship, or none. I would also defend their right to pray to the god they choose in public ans much and as often as they like…as long it is not interrupting class time.

          • jmichael39

            “Originally, he was leading prayers. He was told to stop. It then became a personal prayer, which is still illegal.” – Unless you’re privy to something not contained in the various articles written about this situation, you need to stop and regroup. Because you’re making things up now. It never once says “he was leading prayers” originally or otherwise. Every indication is that he was doing these things on his own. The one part that COULD be construed as leading anything was the pre-game prayers with some coaches and a few players. But even the school district acknowledged that was completely voluntary too. AND he stopped that practice, so as to even remove the allusion to ‘leading’ anything.

            In addition, not even the school district forbade him from praying himself, even at the fifty yardline after the game. They request he not allow others to join him. As if somehow he is not allowed to lead them in prayer, but is allowed to lead them NOT in prayer. Silly to say the least. But nowhere in the article does anyone suggest that Kennedy has no right to actually pray at the end of that game…not even the school district.

            “Coaches and teachers while on the job, cannot legally pray in front of students, nor participate in prayers with them.” – again, your rejecting of the Tinker ruling is noted, but utterly irrelevant. You can yell and scream from the mountain tops that a teacher leaves their constitutional rights at the school gate but the SCOTUS has ruled otherwise.

            “Coaches and teachers leading prayer is viewed” – again show us where in this case it is shown that he was “leading” anything.

            “as long it is not interrupting class time.” – completely irrelevant and immaterial to this case. There is no class room involved here. Not a tick of the game clock is stopped to give this man his time of prayer. No one’s life is interrupted or altered by an iota of coercion. Even the one Atheist player who was interviewed said he liked what was going on because it helped create team unity. He wasn’t even praying with the coach…and didn’t feel compelled to.

          • Tom in Raleigh

            Read State Superintendent Randy Dorn’s statement on this mess. It’ll clear up a lot.

            you really should do some reading on Tinker and its application. Seriously.

          • jmichael39

            Dorn merely repeated the pertinent elements of this case. Namely that Kennedy cannot LEAD prayer. As I’ve said before this will come down to whether the district can assert and prove that he, in any manner which violates the constitution, LED students to pray. I’ve asked you to show me any evidence that he “led” anyone in prayer vs simply exercised his fundamental right to express his faith and that every other person similarly did so. A question which you’ve conveniently ignored.

            As for Tinker, the words of the Justices have not been overruled, they are general in nature regarding both student and teachers’ basic rights and absolutely can be used in defense of this case. It’s fine that you disagree. As far as I know, you’ve not been named to the SCOTUS or any federal court for that matter. So your opinion matters no more than mine does.

          • Tom in Raleigh

            Lol. I don’t need to be a judge to understand basic constitutional law principles, or even how Tinker has been applied.

            I know you badly, badly want it to apply…yet sadly, there is no precedent for it. You are welcome to continue with your very basic misunderstanding and yearning for a different reality. 🙂

          • jmichael39

            The Supreme Court has employed two different standards to evaluate the free speech rights of teachers while on school grounds. In Tinker v. Des Moines Independent School District the Supreme Court held that the freedom of speech of a group of students was abridged when school officials suspended them for wearing black armbands to protest the Vietnam War. The Court said that restrictions on in-school speech are valid only if the expressive activity (1) “materially and substantially interfer[es] with the requirements of appropriate discipline in the operation of the school,” or (2) “[collides] with the rights of others.” The Court also said that “undifferentiated fear or apprehension of disturbance is not enough to overcome the right to freedom of expression.” Moreover, school officials may not prohibit speech merely to avoid “discomfort and unpleasantness” accompanying a particular viewpoint.

            Although Tinker directly involved only the free speech rights of students, the Court indirectly recognized the similar rights of teachers as well. Thus, in James v. Board of Education, a federal appeals court applied the Tinker test and held that a high school teacher had a First Amendment right to wear a black armband in the classroom to protest the Vietnam War. The Court held that the teacher’s armband passed the two-part test in Tinker and did not interfere with the teacher’s classroom duties. The court said that although the teacher had a more persuasive influence over a “captive” student audience than would another student, the teacher was not coercive and did not “arbitrarily inculcate doctrinaire views in the minds of students.” Rather, the court said, high school students were able to distinguish between a teacher’s personal views and those that were the official position of the school board.

            Tinker applies. There have been other cases that have clarified and fine tuned the applicability. But Tinker still applies…as do the two standards.

            That being said, save your boasting for someone who doesn’t understand the BS underneath it all. See you around…or not.

          • Tom in Raleigh

            Also, Tinker is used in relation to students free speech rights. Not this of teachers.

            If a student athlete marched to the 50 yd line after a game to lead a prayer…there would be no issue.

          • jmichael39

            Respectfully, Tom, read the quote. It is quite clear that the justices are inferring that their ruling is applicable to both students and teachers.

          • Tom in Raleigh

            Please cite an example of where Tinker was used to protect religious excercise by teachers or coaches on school grounds with students around.

            I imagine you’ll be hard pressed.

          • jmichael39

            that’s blatantly illogical. The court has ruled. You show ME where Tinker has been overruled by another SCOTUS case. Otherwise, the ruling still stands and can be used by Kennedy’s lawyer should they choose to. I ask you again, why do you even care? What harm has Kennedy done? Show me one thing his praying has done to harm a single person on ANY LEVEL.

          • Tom in Raleigh

            Tinker has been used plenty, it simply has not, to my knowledge, been used to defend a teacher’s right to pray in public schools.

            There is really no question. Teachers and coaches cannot pray with, or around, students. If you have cases you can quote that allow for this…bring it. I would love to see it.

            Students should have the right of conscience to choose their religion, and their belief structures, along with their parents. A student that doesn’t beleive may feel pressure to participate to be in better standing with an authority figure. It’s quite simple. The way to avoid this for teachers and coaches to remain religiously neutral while on the job.

            I noticed that you couldn’t cite a case where tinker was used successfully to defend a coach or teacher. I’ll assume that this is because it doesn’t exist?

          • jmichael39

            “Tinker has been used plenty, it simply has not, to my knowledge, been used to defend a teacher’s right to pray in public schools.” – so what? Has what the justices said regarding teachers…as I quoted…been overruled by any other SCOTUS ruling? No. The fact that it has not been used is utterly irrelevant logically.

            “There is really no question. Teachers and coaches cannot pray with, or around, students.” – Only if you utterly ignore Tinker. Which you’re obviously happy to do. But “no question”…only in the mind of a person with clue what logic is.

            “Students should have the right of conscience to choose their religion, and their belief structures,” – Where, anywhere, in this case is ANYONE forcing ANYONE to believe in anything?

            “A student that doesn’t beleive may feel pressure to participate to be in better standing with an authority figure.” – So you want them to have the right of conscience, but not the right to choose whether they want to join the coach and the others? So in other words, this ‘right of conscience” extends only so far as they are choose not to freely participate? And, of course, it’s okay if a secular humanist teacher promotes THEIR beliefs in the class room…because secular humanism isn’t a religion…except when you want to argue before a court for your religious liberties (which has happened several times).

            “I noticed that you couldn’t cite a case where tinker was used successfully to defend a coach or teacher. I’ll assume that this is because it doesn’t exist?” – you can ASSume whatever you want. There’s no logical relevance to your point. Now, there IS logical relevance to the fact that you can’t cite a case where the Tinker ruling has been overruled by a subsequent SCOTUS ruling. Or have found such a case? No? I didn’t think so. Therefore, the rule of law is that the precedence set by Tinker stands.

          • Tom in Raleigh

            The reason you can’t find a case in which Tinker has been used to argue a teacher’s right to pray with students is because it doesn’t exist and it’s not what the Tinker standard is applied to.

            in this reality, Tibker is not used in the way you would like it to be and therefor has no bearing on this case.

            While I get that you don’t like it, the reality is that constitutional law as it relates to teachers, coaches, administrators and prayer is that they simply cannot prticipate in public prayer with, or around students. Unless something changes, that is the law we live under.

            There appears to be a wide chasm between how the Tinker decision is applied and how you would like it to be applied.

            I’m not arguing whether it’s been overturned…simply that the Tinker standard applies to student rights…not to those of teachers. I can cite cases where the Tibker standard has been applied. If you need help, I can google that for you.

            If you can provide a single case in which Tinker has been applied to the rights of a teacher, coach or administrator in a public school…I’m all ears.

            As for secular humanism in schools? Would love to know where and how you think this is being promoted. Please provide links. As a general rule…schools remaining secular is a good thing and it keeps everyone neutral, but I would be happy to address any specific incident you are referring to.

          • jmichael39

            “The reason you can’t find a case in which Tinker has been used to argue a teacher’s right to pray with students is because it doesn’t exist and it’s not what the Tinker standard is applied to” – it’s like talking to an ignoramus. I’ll try this one last time. So long as you have no SCOTUS case that overrules the precedent set in Tinker, then Tinker is the law of the land. It is utterly and completely irrelevant whether anyone has used Tinker for anything. Not using it does not overrule it. Can your feeble mind grasp that reality. It’s called logic. And while I know it’s a foreign concept to you, try it for once. It might cure some of your mental illnesses.

            “There appears to be a wide chasm between how the Tinker decision is applied and how you would like it to be applied.” – do you have a logical bone in your body? You just argued that Tinker has NOT been used in any cases. And now you’re suggesting it has been used just not how I want it to be used. Which is it, Tom? Do you or do you not have SCOTUS cases to cite that overrule the conclusions of the Tinker case as I have quoted them? It’s as simple as that, If not, then the Tinker ruling stands and CAN be used should someone choose to.

            “As for secular humanism in schools? Would love to know where and how you think this is being promoted. Please provide links. As a general rule…schools remaining secular is a good thing and it keeps everyone neutral, but I would be happy to address any specific incident you are referring to.”

            As Charles Potter (signatory of the original Humanist Manifesto) once said, “Education is thus a most powerful ally of Humanism, and every American public school is a school of Humanism. What can the theistic Sunday-school, meeting for an hour once a week, and teaching only a fraction of the children, do to stem the tide of a five-day program of humanistic teaching?” – Charles Francis Potter (a signatory of the 1930 Humanist Manifesto I), Humanism: A New Religion (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1930), p. 128.

            Even Leo Pfeffer, the Humanist attorney who argued the Torcaso case (where the SCOTUS declared Secular Humanism to be a religion), declared that Fundamentalists, individually or collectively, have manifested no indication of giving up in their crusade against secular humanism in the public schools. Pfeffer fears that if the Supreme Court upholds its current understanding of religion to include Secular Humanism and orders the teachings of Humanism to be removed from the public schools “the consequences may be no less than the disintegration of our public school system and the end of Horace Mann’s dream.” – The Humanist, September/October 1988, p. 50.

            And what is Horace Mann’s dream? Horace Mann visualized a world where no one would be in the prisons, a virtual utopia, if he could just get Christianity out of education.

            “I am convinced that the battle for humankind’s future must be waged and won in the public school classroom by teachers who correctly perceive their role as the proselytizers of a new faith: a religion of humanity that recognizes and respects that spark of what theologians call divinity in every human being. These teachers must embody the same selfless dedication as the most rabid fundamentalist preachers, for they will be ministers of another sort, utilizing a classroom instead of a pulpit to convey humanist values in whatever subject they teach, regardless of educational level — preschool day care or large state university. The classroom must and will become an arena of conflict between the old and the new — the rotting corpse of Christianity, together with its adjacent evils and misery, and the new faith of humanism, resplendent in its promise of a world in which the never-realized Christian ideal of “love thy neighbor” will finally be achieved.” – John J. Dunphy January/February 1983 issue of The Humanist magazine

            While we can argue whether Mann’s, Dewey’s and Dunphy’s goals of an education system where the religion of humanism replaces the religion of Christianity as the prevalent religion taught to our children or not, there is little question of two things: 1) that is most definitely the dream they had/have, and 2) our current hierarchy in our nation’s education system is filled with secular humanists.

            While you can beat your chest in mock victory that your religion has become the state religion as taught in our schools, spare us your feigned denial that such is the case.

          • Tom in Raleigh

            So to paraphrase, you had (much like your lack of Tinker uses as applied to teachers) no specific cases where secular humanism was being promoted and pushed by teachers and coaches.

            Study Tinker and its application. Perhaps someday you will be able to actually understand it and cases the Tinker standard has been used. (Hint…not for Teachers, Coaches or administrators.)

            Till then…enjoy. Think of me when this coach loses his case. 🙂

          • jmichael39

            In other words, you have no rational rebuttal. Thanks for the heads up.

          • Tom in Raleigh

            I snorted. Seriously.

            What does one say to that? I asked for examples of secular humanism being pushed on students. You were able to provide as much evidence of that as you were for the use of Tinker for teachers rights. It’s laughable.

          • jmichael39

            Snort all you want. You haven’t a single question I’ve presented and have failed utterly to present a rational argument. But thanks for at least pretending to know what the heck you’re talking about.

          • Tom in Raleigh

            The problem is that except in your warm little bubble, prayer led by teachers(or coaches, or administrators) is illegal. There’s really very little to argue there.

            You want Tinker to apply, yet can’t provide a single SOCAS case where it would. You make up a vast secular humanism prostelyzatiob issue in our schools that doesn’t exist.

            Seriously man. Just stop. Think back on this string when Kennedy loses his case and be done with it.

          • jmichael39

            Stop what? Stop asking questions you refuse to answer? For about the fifth time I ask you to show us where Coach Kennedy was ‘leading’ anyone in prayer after the games. Not a single person was invited or compelled to join. I know you think that those poor high school players are utterly helpless with out people like you to prevent evil men like Coach Kennedy from unduly influencing them with their disgusting religious expressions, but there’s not a single thing you can point to that would make this man guilty of anything.

          • Tom in Raleigh

            I suppose you’ll simply find out more about the legality of this matter as his court case proceeds. Enjoy your day.

          • jmichael39

            as will you.

          • 1776Mariner

            Hey Tom, when slaves were fighting for their freedom (remember slavery was upheld by a Supreme Court decision), would you tell that that the best course of action would be to come into compliance with the law. Hmmm..? Just as slaves and abolitionists fought an immoral and unjust application of the laws of this great nation regarding the rights of ALL men to be free, we are obligated to disobey this current day attack on religious liberty because it is an erroneous skewing of the principles that our Founders wrote specifically to protect religious freedom and expression. It is time for a new “civil war” if this lunacy and tyranny of courts that are corrupting our rights is allowed to stand. The same tyrannical, erroneous interpretation of our laws have made it legal to kill unborn human beings. The Judicial branch is out of control and needs to be checked. The question is, will the other two branches do this OR will they continue to join in the corruption.

          • Tom in Raleigh

            I don’t think expecting a coach or teacher to remain religiously neutral is quite equal owning other human beings…but that’s just me.

            I get that you don’t like it, but this is not tyranny.

          • 1776Mariner

            The founders of this great nation believed the right to be able to have religious freedom and expression in the public square was crucial and was so important that they included in the Bill of Rights. So, yes, it is as important as the right to NOT be owned by others. Sorry you don’t get it. And yes, it is tyranny when in our age we are being denied this essential right by politically correct tyrants.

          • Tom in Raleigh

            Expecting a coach to remain neutral is not at all like owning another human being.

            When he is not on his time as a government employee…he can do as he likes. In the meantime he can refrain from praying with his students. Note: he could pray in his mind as much as he liked, or pray privately (which the district even offered!) but he would not. He wanted to preach, from the 50.

            He will likely lose his job…but that is what he chose.

          • 1776Mariner

            The free expression of one’s faith in the public square is NOT un-Constitutional. He didn’t do anything wrong. He did not proselytize. He was not preaching. When one works for the government, one does NOT give up essential rights. He merely communicated his thanksgiving to his God, something he has done for years, something many have done for years. It is a personal gesture. Sorry it offends you and all the other politically correct of this nation. All this PC nonsense regarding expression of religion having to be private is nonsense. That is how it started in Communist nations. The next step was to shut down churches completely. Look at our history. The Founders would not supporting this misinterpretation of religious freedom if they could time travel and visit our times.

          • Tom in Raleigh

            In the public square, by public citizen ( not a gov’t official) free expression of religion is on. Go for it.

            If he wasn’t proselytizing…why did it have to happen, with his students around at the 50 td line?

            While I hope he had no ill intent, there is no legal precedent that would allow for his behavior. In fact, the opposite is true. Praying with, or around students, is clearly illegal.

            As for the slippery slope stuff? Chill. Nobody is trying to stop the free excercise of religion by private citizens. In fact, to prove this to yourself, I would encourage you to go to your favorite private space and read bible verses aloud. 🙂

          • 1776Mariner

            Hey Tom,

            He was not proselytizing. He was expressing his right to free speech and free expression of his faith. The Bill of Rights didn’t say that these rights had to be hidden. They don’t restrict these rights to just have just freedom of worship…which is the right to express ourselves in our houses of worship out of the public square. We have the right to free expression of our religion and free speech in the public square is another right we have. Period.

            I am amazed at your desire to squelch free speech as well as the free expression of religion.

            Also, so what if students were nearby? The Bill of Rights doesn’t say we have the right to free expression of religion as long as no one is nearby.

            Finally, your point about going to “your private place” is putting restrictions on the free expression of religion. We are not allowed these rights only in our private place. We are allowed them in the public square.

            You don’t get it. You obviously will never get it. You are the one who needs to chill.

          • Tom in Raleigh

            I am totally chill thanks. If by saying I will “never get it” you mean that I will continue having a frame of reference and some knowledge as to constitutional law in cases such as this…you are correct. I will never get it.

            Once again, you and all of your buddies can go out and pray in public all you like. As a free speech advocate, I would encourage you to try it and yet your rights. You’ll find they are very much there and intact. Enjoy your day!

            As this case is old news. I will be back when there are any updates

  • Craig Martin

    Teachers and students do not hang up their constitutional rights at the school door. If the coach wants to pray… it is not business of the state when or where he does it. If students want to join that is their freedom and right to do so. When are these so-called “tolerant” people going to begin to practice the “tolerance” that they preach? Public institutions are exactly the place where religious liberty must be protected. If religious liberty cannot be accommodated in the same way gender and race are accommodated, then the gov needs to get out of the business of public education.
    Tolerance means inclusion of all, not exclusion of all!
    If we treated race the way these preachers of tolerance treat faith, then all races would be excluded!
    They do not see the dichotomy in their thinking…

    • Tom in Raleigh

      According to most SOCAS law, teachers do hang up their religious expression right at the door and are expected to remain neutral.

      Students may lead prayers and pray whenever they like in school as long as they do not interrupt class time.

      • jmichael39

        Then go right ahead and call for this man’s arrest and/or firing. This is the first time people like you have tried to shut down the Gospel or the spreading of that Gospel.
        I recommend reading Acts 3:1-4:22 and Acts 5:17-42. And read about the stories of how China, for decades has persecuted believers, banned bibles and jailed pastors in order to squelch the spread of the Christian religion there. And how the underground church in China is stronger than ever.

        You can sure try to stop us, but you won’t. But you go right ahead and call for the firing of this man who once wore an uniform to defend his right to kneel on that football field and pray and your right to disagree with him…but NOT your right to take away his right.

        • Tom in Raleigh

          As a government employee, what he was doing is illegal. He’ll lose his lawsuit and then likely his job, because that’s what is choosing.

          Alternative choices and accomadations were not good enough for coach Kennedy.

          • jmichael39

            Don’t sound TOO gleeful, Tom. I know you’re exuberant over the idea of seeing a Christian silenced…but do try to contain your glee just a little.

          • Tom in Raleigh

            No glee. I really wish that Coach Kennedy would have taken one of the options given to him for post-game prayer, and gotten good legal advice.

            It would have saved everyone a lot of time,l and trouble.

          • jmichael39

            You mean to take his prayer and stuff into a closet somewhere where no one else can be ‘offended’ by it. How sad that our country’s founding principles of live and let live have evolved into live (unless you offend someone) and only let live when someone else is not offended. Thank you for being such a milk toast citizen Tom. Remember the old adage about how when the Nazis came for the blacks I didn’t say anything, because I’m not black and when they came for the homosexuals, I didn’t say anything because I’m not homosexual, and when they…yada yada (you know the idea)…well, don’t ever think it will stop with the Christians. It won’t. There is a reason you should fight for my right to believe what I believe AND my right to freely express my beliefs in open public…and that’s it.

          • Tom in Raleigh

            Are you a government official? If yes, I will expect neutrality from you while on

          • jmichael39

            And the Tinker case, AGAIN, disagrees with you, Tom. You’ve yet to show any SCOTUS case that overrules what the justices said in Tinker. Come on, Tom…we know YOUR opinion. Show us one that actually matters.

          • Rebecca Spellmeyer

            What alternative choices and accommodations were offered to him? Don’t do it or else is not and alternative choice or accommodation.

          • Tom in Raleigh

            They offered him a private space in which to pray immediately after games. He declined.

  • Dave_L

    “At least six high school football players have died since September” reports USA today. This does not touch on the non lethal injuries and life long damage done in similar school sponsored activities. They report 1.35 million youths a year have serious sports injuries. Are we misrepresenting Christ when we participate in violent sports?

    We know that Jesus calls on us to pray in private and not make a show about it.

    “But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.” (Matthew 6:6)

    Should we use prayer if there is a chance it should elicit a mass protest against civil authorities?

    • The Last Trump

      Say, didn’t Jesus pray publically ALL THE TIME, regularly speaking to His Father right in the midst of all of His followers? And then of course there is the practice of saying Grace and giving thanks unto God before consuming any meal, just as Jesus did, whether you be with family or entire communities at any very public event where food is consumed….hmmm….interesting.

      • Dave_L

        Well I suppose Jesus did pray with the disciples. But certainly not in a way that would enable him to criticize the Pharisees if they were doing the same as he. What was Jesus’ motive for praying at any given time? Do you think it was the same motive as the one held by the Coach and the players? Who were they more like in their public, well publicized prayer? Jesus or the Pharisees?

        • Josey

          Matthew 23:24 You blind guides, who strain out a gnat, and swallow a camel.

          • Dave_L

            OK, let’s ask if Christian’s should be involved in violent sports where 6 have died for “entertainment” purposes in 1 1/2 months? This does not consider violent auto sports where many are killed and injured for life.

            Now let’s ask if Prayer should be used for any other reason than that defined in Scripture?

            Finally let’s ask, does any of the above glorify Jesus and represent what he teaches? Knowing he forbids killing and acting like Pharisees?

        • Josey

          Context once again as afcheif already explained to you.

          • Dave_L

            Lets have some rebuttal from Scriptures taken in context.

    • afchief

      Dave, remember I told you to study the word in the context of who, when and where it was written. Remember, it is all about the “heart”. That is what the word of God is for and does. It deals with your heart. Your heart is what God looks at. Man looks at the flesh. In this case it had to do with pride. Jesus was aiming this at the Pharisees who love to be seen praying on the street corners making themselves look religious and important.
      Today we can pray anywhere. We pray silently at anytime and anywhere God pricks our heart or where we feel there is a need to pray.

      This man, his players and others are not out there praying to be seen. They were out there thanking God for His love and mercy.

      • Dave_L

        Do you think it is good to use prayer for any other reason that to worship and petition God, giving thanks?

        • afchief

          Prayer is not only worshiping and praising God. Matthew 7:7 (NASB)
          Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.

          Prayer is asking!
          Prayer is seeking!
          Prayer is knocking!

          • Dave_L

            What does Petitioning” God mean if not for asking seeking and knocking.

          • afchief

            It basically means the same thing.

          • Dave_L

            Yes, and “petition” is the word I used when I asked; Do you think it is good to use prayer for any other reason that to worship and petition God, giving thanks?.

          • Josey

            Matthew 5:14-16 14Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. 15Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. 16Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

            What are you suggesting Dave? That we as Christians should take our light that God has put in us and hide in a closet somewhere? A light is meant to bring light to those around us.

          • Dave_L

            Not at all. But are we filtering the light through nonspiritual motives when we cannot support our methods with the Word?

          • Josey

            why? because you are against the game of sports you are saying that, right? Regardless, I have to move on, got to do some other things.

          • Dave_L

            If you think of something to defend your position, this thread should be around for awhile. Thanks for your thoughts.

    • Josey

      It was a witness and it encouraged my heart to see and hear about this and you take scripture out of context once again. Why would you be against this? You need to seriously take a look at your own life in God. There is a prayer that is done in secret and there is a prayer of agreement, it’s all in the scriptures. Matthew 18:19 Again I say to you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.

      • Dave_L

        Should we exploit prayer for reasons other than those given in Scripture?

        • Josey

          This coach didn’t exploit prayer, you are wrong, he simply gave thanks to God for his players and they joined in of their own free volition. It is an inspiration and Jesus was there in their midst for where two or more are gathered in His name as the scriptures declare there He is in their midst. Lives were touched and refreshed by Christ and unless you are anti christ then I don’t see what problem you have with it unless you are being a pharisee who strains a gnat but swallow a camel. God is judge of the heart anyway.

          • Dave_L

            God knows his heart. All we can do is ask how what he did aligns with Scripture?

          • Josey

            Don’t you see that he didn’t nothing against scripture by giving thanks to God for his players on his field?

          • Dave_L

            It seems he could give thanks in private as Jesus expects from us. Since he did not, are we at liberty to question his motives?

          • Kandy

            His praying for thanks to God for his team, was a show of the love he has for his team. And his love for God as well.

    • FoJC_Forever

      People like you turn others away from Truth through the use of Scripture, just the Devil did when he quoted a passage to Jesus in order to get Him to obey his voice.

      People should obey and be led by the Holy Spirit, not your words.

      • Dave_L

        How can we be led of the Holy Spirit when we reject the clear teaching of Scripture?

        • FoJC_Forever

          Silly question. You sound like the people who constantly badgered Jesus when He walked the earth.

          Your treachery will be rewarded.

          • Dave_L

            Fojc says; “People like you turn others away from Truth through the use of Scripture.”

            John says this is not possible;

            “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1 John 5:4–5)

          • FoJC_Forever

            I know you’re going to continue to post Scripture like you’re a Christian. The old adage, “Speak a lie loud enough and long enough, then people will believe it” fits you well. You are continuing to present yourself as a Christian under the cover of using Bible verses, but you’re a fraud, a pretender, a stalker, maybe even a hacker.

            You’ll pay for your treachery.

          • Dave_L

            You cannot give your opinion about the motives of others without condemning yourself. It is willful deliberate sin. “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” (Matthew 7:1)

            Greek for Judge – ⓐ judge, pass judgment upon, express an opinion about

            You are sinning every time you do this. Pray that God would grant to you repentance.

          • Emmanuel

            Out of curiosity, are you a believer or not? Do you follow the teachings of Jesus? i can’t tell or see it.
            2 Corinthians 4:4

          • Kandy

            It is your turn with him. Good luck. Maybe he will leave me alone now. Please keep him occupied.

          • Emmanuel

            LOL, a cockroach never dies.

          • Kandy

            LOL how true 🙂

          • Kandy

            Did he just say if someone steps on a cockroach does not have eternal life? Does he mean we will go to hell? Good luck with him.

          • Emmanuel

            Move on. Just continue share the real word of God.

          • Kandy

            I will.

          • FoJC_Forever

            You’re wrong. You can twist the Scriptures using the infamous Greek references all you want, but you don’t know Jesus and He wasn’t talking about calling a sin a sin.

            You only fool those who don’t know Jesus (the) Christ, not those of us who follow Him.

            You’ve used many tricks to try to pin me down, but you continue to fail. You do know that you will never succeed, right? No matter how many circles you run in, or try to run me in, I will never go to Hell with you and your kind.

            I am redeemed by the Son of God, and nothing you and your friends can do will change that. No matter how many people you convince to be against me, you cannot remove me from my Father’s hand. Jesus prayed for me, and all of us who know Him. His prayers are always established, forever.

            Follow Jesus, find Truth.

  • Don Butler

    Time to stop being so “nice”!

    Did you know the word “nice” used to mean: foolish or stupid? Ironically, people started using it as a way to describe someone as “pleasant” or “decent,” unaware of its original meaning, and over time, “nice” completely lost its original meaning.

    The phrase “separation of church and state” is the same way. It meant something to America’s founding fathers, but over time, it took on a new meaning. Today, the phrase means that if something is related to the state, then discussion of religion is forbidden.


    What did the phrase “separation of church and state” originally mean in the Constitution? Let’s look at a few insights.

    The first thing to note is that the phrase doesn’t occur anywhere in the Constitution. It is a phrase that people have inaccurately invented in an attempt to explain the First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

    In its original context, this passage meant that the U.S. would not have an official “state Church” like England. The English government officially supported the Church of England, using taxes to support Anglicanism. The founding fathers, who promoted the Revolutionary War, did not want the same kind of church.

    This is the extent of this passage from the First Amendment. There is nowhere in the Constitution that forbids individuals from mixing faith and politics or from sharing their faith in a state-related function or location.

    Also, the following facts show that, historically, no one interpreted the First Amendment to exclude religion from the political sphere:

    The U.S. Congress used to hold Christian worship services at the Capitol on Sundays.

    The Supreme Court Building was used to house church services on Sundays.

    Twelve of the original 14 states required religious tests for those seeking public office.

    After the Civil War, the First Congregational Church of Washington used the House of Representatives as a worship building.

    In 1863, the U.S. Senate requested that Abraham Lincoln designate an official day of national prayer and humility.

    In 1944, Franklin D. Roosevelt (as well as many presidents before him) went on the radio and prayed nationally for our troops and our nation.

    When the First Amendment was implemented in 1791, it was intended to only limit the natural (federal) government and not the state government.

    We have seriously misunderstood what “separation of church and state” means. To the founding fathers, the First Amendment existed to keep the state out of the church, not the church out of the state.


    There are two applications here for Christians today:

    First, we as believers should use our rights and our freedom of religion to promote what is righteous. We are not allowed to be silenced in the public sphere by the government. We should use our rights to stand up, not only for our faith but also against issues such as abortion and the restriction of religious liberty.

    Second, we must understand that good interpretation matters, whether we are interpreting the Bible, the Constitution or any other document. If we interpret someone’s words in a way that wouldn’t make sense to the original audience, we have developed an incorrect interpretation.

    May we seek to be good students of interpretation, good students of history and good students of the rights we have as believers in our country.

    Share this to wake up the American voters! It’s time to VOICE our true concerns!

    • Josey

      Thank you, you have a gift of words, God bless your voice to speak up what some of us know and believe about the constitution but yet might not be able to vocalize it quite like you just did, God bless you brother!

    • FoJC_Forever

      If we listen to the Holy Spirit, there is no need to interpret. In fact, interpreting leads many astray. The Holy Spirit teaches and reveals what He meant to the writers He inspired to write the Scriptures.

      We need to continue to speak the Truth and let God lead us in our daily lives, to say and do as He Wills. Being silent isn’t always the answer, and neither is always speaking. We aren’t going to change the world into something which is Righteous. The world is evil in nature and will not obey the LORD, regardless of how vocal Christians are in the public sphere.

    • Michex

      I agree.
      Christians need to play rough and tough and not let these rogue judges, school administrators and homosexuals have their way.

    • jmichael39

      Obviously you can only share so much in a post, and I am grateful for such an articulate post, but if I may, I’d like to add a few things
      1) The term “separation of church and state” was popularized in a letter from Jefferson to the Danbury Baptist Church in response to the church’s concerns over rumors that Jefferson might intend on making another denomination the official church of the US. His letter was an assurance that no such thing would occur.
      2) In the early years of this country several states had state religions. However, the 14th Amendment…or rather the obscene extension of the 14th to other areas of the Bill of RIghts…created a format from which states began to remove their sponsorship of a state religion. And since most states now have some form of taxation or another, I don’t honestly mind that.
      3) The term, “separation of church and state” was used only once, I believe, by any SCOTUS ruling before the 1940s. It was never the intent of the founding fathers. It is purely a fabrication of the atheistic left in this country in an attempt to make secular humanism the national religion.

  • The Last Trump

    Looks like someone foolish picked yet another fight where no fight needed to be fought.
    And now they’re losing very publically and very badly.
    Looks good on them.
    Keep it up you intolerant religious extremists! (That’s right atheists. I’m talking to YOU.)
    The harder you desperately try to “kill” Christianity, the more slumbering followers you awake!
    Love it! 🙂

    • WorldGoneCrazy

      So true – great post, The Last Trump! Between the Freedom From Thought lawsuits, the There is No God and I Hate Him bullies, and the Gaystapo, the wolves are being separated from the sheep, and many nominal “christians” are deciding to stand firm for Christ instead of for Western Churchianity.

      It’s analogous to the folks running around now who are PROUD of their abortions – they are the gift that keeps on giving to the pro-life side!

    • Josey

      Amen Trump, Amen! Glory to God!

  • BeccaJoe

    I love this show of support. We have a burgeoning movement of secular statists trying to override the 1st amendment to the constitution. It’s comforting to see that there is a large group of people who are rejecting it in favor of the religious freedom that is guaranteed to us. The spirit of the founders still lives. We still hate to have the government, or anybody else, tell us we can’t exercise those rights.

  • Josey

    There is no way a Child of God who prays will leave out Lord or Father God or Jesus as that is whom they are addressing when they pray, it is ridiculous to set guidelines that a Christian cannot address as Lord the one Lord God Almighty in whom they are praying to and furthermore these people who state that the coach can pray alone but cannot have students join in by their own free will is clearly wrong also, these students that joined and those parents who came down to join in have a free will also, the coach didn’t ask anyone to come join him in prayer, they came of their own free volition to pray in agreement. There is nothing they can do about that unless they intend to round all Christians up and lock us away and even then they cannot stop one from praying. Glory to God for the Daniels in this world, I join in agreement with the coach and with this town of supporters in prayer to thank God for these kids and where two or more are gathered in His name there He is in the midst of them. Hallelujah and praise to God of Heaven and Earth!

    • LadyFreeBird<In God I Trust


      • Chrissy Vee

        Halleluah Praise Jesus! o/ ♥

        • LadyFreeBird<In God I Trust

          And a huge Amen! <3

  • bowie1

    Christians pray, atheists prey.

    • Emmanuel

      Great post.

  • Peter Leh

    The only one risking their job is the coach…. not the students or parents.

  • Dave_L

    Beyond the topic of prayer, there is the issue of Christians being involved in violent sports as a spectacle of entertainment. Does Jesus condone this type of behavior?

    “At least six high school football players have died since September” reports USA today. Think of the injuries and life long damage done in similar school sponsored activities. They report 1.35 million youths a year have serious sports injuries. Are we misrepresenting Christ when we participate in violent sports?

    • Josey

      Now, that is the problem you have with the whole thing, right? It is about sports. Give scriptures Dave where Jesus condoned or didn’t condone sports or competition since you are telling others to give scriptures, do you have any either against it or for it? I don’t know one way or another and this article is about prayer and the free right to exercise it not about sports.

      • Dave_L

        Inflicting death and bodily injury = thou shalt not kill.

    • Emmanuel

      LOL, really? you lefties are now going to this? Jesus did not play football, then it must be bad. LOL

      • Dave_L

        Please show where Jesus called for us to act like Pharisees and pray to be seen. When Jesus taught us to pray in private.

        Please post Scripture to show where Jesus promoted competition when he taught us to treat others as our equal instead.

        Please post Scripture to justify 1.35 million students injured (many for life) every year for entertainment purposes, not to mention the 6 killed for the same reason in the last 1 1/2 months, when the Bible says Thou shalt not kill.

        How does any killing differ from abortion?

        • Emmanuel

          Again, are you a believer or not? What church do you attend? You sound like a fool that attends one of those liberal Methodist churches. So…..

  • Nidalap

    A man behaving as a man should behave. I can see where certain elements of society would find that…threatening…

    • Emmanuel

      They rather have the manly Bruce Jenner lead those kids in prayer.

      • Nidalap

        Ack! Stop it! You’re making me envision him in some kind of rainbow-hued clerical robes! «O_0»

        • Kandy

          Kind of creepy! Now I can see that! ewww! LOL

  • JohninRedding

    It is pretty obvious that Satan is pulling out the stops to shut down any public display of Christian practices. Thanks to this coach for standing in the breach. It is time for all committed Christians in this country to do the same. We have stood silent too long. We should join others who are in prayer, using every opportunity possible. We need to be vocal using our local newspapers to speak out, web sites such as this, talk shows, etc. Technology gives us lots of options. We need to use them all.

  • FoJC_Forever

    Christians believe in Jesus (the) Christ, not a football game. While I’m certain all the fuss about this coach praying at football games is simply an attack on religion in practice, Christians need to exercise Wisdom in these things. It’s easy to be sympathetic to this man’s “cause”, but what we pray is extremely important. Where we pray matters too. This man and his team have the right to practice their religion, but it doesn’t mean it’s according to Truth.

    Don’t get caught up in media, social, and political drama.

    Follow Jesus, find Wisdom.

    • Josey

      I agree with our belief in Jesus Christ our Savior and He comes first but I don’t think we need to hide our light under a bushel and can pray wherever we feel led to do so, only God knows this coach’s heart and I don’t see anything wrong with his giving thanks to God for those young people. God has set him as the coach and he is showing his witness in Christ to those young people. Now where I would draw the line is praying for a certain team to win over the other but I don’t think that is what this coach was doing, for one thing the game was already over. And yes you are right, we as Christians do need to seek God’s wisdom in these matters so we don’t get caught up in situations that cause drama.

      • FoJC_Forever

        He stated that he believes in the game. These are not words to be spoken in prayer. He has revealed his heart in the words he used in the “prayer”. It’s a public spectacle, not a prayer to God made in Faith. Faith doesn’t believe in football. Faith believes God and in God and in the Power of His Word, and Faith comes by the very Word which empowers us to believe.

  • Miriam Luz

    Pray while you still can and stand up for your beliefs and for all those who are being butchered for it.

    • Josey

      They can never take a Child of God’s prayers away, even those that can’t speak and are mute can pray. I do agree though that we have to stand up and be that light to the world and stand for our religious freedoms that the first amendment stands for regardless of how the servants of ungodliness have twisted it to mean other than what our founders intended.

  • Kandy

    Praise God for all who came in support and prayer for this Christian coach. May God Bless this coach and everyone who came and supported him. May God Protect him from the ones who are trying to take away his right to pray.May God Bless his team and even the ones who play against his team as well.

  • Emmanuel

    A coach that cares about the spiritual well-being a young person and not just about the wins. Great job coach. Keep it up.

  • Michex

    Very brave of the coach and his supporters.

    The school district head, Kennedy, needs to be fired and sent to North Korea to chill out.

  • 4Him

    Muslims pray on PUBLIC venues across this nation, as recently reported in the streets of Los Angeles, California. This coach, athletes, students, spectators also have the right to pray after a game etc. etc. the school district should be charged with religious discrimination! Muslims are being accommodated in many varied venues, Christians should NOT be censored and silenced etc. etc.
    Kudos to the many who supported this coach standing firm for freedom of speech and freedom of religion.! Shame on the PC school district!

  • RandomRambler

    Separation of church and state means that the statue of liberty, the American coins with goddess Columbia, and the District of (goddess) Columbia need to go!

  • Jesse

    I don’t know what’s wrong with my side (secularists) but they’re even driving me batty as of late. It’s a free country. As long as the man isn’t forcing his players to pray, let the man have his desert and eat it too. This man isn’t violating the constitution. He’s being a human being with human emotions.

  • NCOriolesFan

    The district is violating student rights to voluntarily join the coach.