Bremerton High School football coach Joe Kennedy was placed on administrative leave for doing something he’s done for seven years: Praying after football games.
After every football game, he waits until everyone is off the field, walks to the 50 yard line and prays. He thanks God for the game and ability to touch students’ lives. These aren’t grandiose, lengthy prayers. They run about 30 seconds, tops. He doesn’t push it on anyone else, but some students have made a habit of joining him in the middle of the field and praying with him.
No big deal, right? Wrong.
Even though he’s been doing this for years, the school district suddenly decided it’s a violation of policy. Kennedy reached out to the Liberty Institute, which sent a letter to the school district.
On Oct. 16, just hours before the game, the school district responded to the letter by threatening him with disciplinary action if he ever again prayed on school property within sight of his players. But Kennedy, who is a 20-year Marine veteran, remained undaunted, saying that he fought for the Constitution for 20 years, and would by his example show his students that they need to stand up for what they believe.
That night, Liberty Institute’s Hiram Sasser accompanied Kennedy onto the field as he offered his post-game prayer. Many Bremerton High School players walked back onto the field to support their coach, and many players from the opposing team joined their former opponents, circling around the embattled coach while he knelt in prayer.
On Oct. 26, Liberty Institute informed the school board that Kennedy’s attorneys are treating the district’s letter as an employer’s refusal to accommodate the coach’s religious beliefs, and that they would accordingly be filing a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
In reaction, the district suspended him.
“Unless and until you are advised otherwise, you may not participate, in any capacity, in BHS [Bremerton High School] football program activities,” the letter read.
After receiving an invite from teachers and a few students, dozens of members of the Satanic Temple of Seattle showed up to the game Thursday night. From the looks of it, they tried to be all intimidating by dressing in black robes. They looked like Halloween gone wrong.
Students swarmed the fence where the Satanists stood outside. The group climbed the fence, shook it, held up crosses, threw liquid, and chanted “Jesus.” Some yelled at the Satanists to go away.
Temple spokeswoman Lilith Starr said the group was invited to protest Kennedy’s ritual of kneeling on the 50-yard line after games and praying. “We want equality for everyone,” she said. “If one group is allowed to pray, everyone should be.”
Starr said as the group was leaving that their mission was victorious because Kennedy did not pray on the field.
Wait. Didn’t Starr JUST say they wanted “equality for everyone?” If that’s so, why do they consider preventing Kennedy from praying on the field a victory? I’m confused.
He did pray, however, in the stands after Bremerton’s 27-20 victory over Sequim.
“I’m willing to take this all the way to the end,” he said during half-time.
The entire controversy is ridiculous. Kennedy never forced or encouraged anyone to pray with him after the games. And the Satanists can suck it. If they want to be on the losing side, that’s their prerogative. Let them be losers. But don’t– for one second– try to stop those who want to send a prayer up to Jesus.
h/t Seattle Times