A football coach at a Bremerton, Wash., high school is on paid leave after refusing to end his public post-game prayers. Joseph Kennedy has held the prayers on the 50-yard line since 2008 and claims he has “an agreement with God” to continue them.
In October, the Bremerton School District ordered Kennedy to stop the public display as well as his practice of holding pre-game locker room prayers. The coach agreed to the latter, but said his post-game prayers are private and that the demand to end them violated his religious freedom.
Q13Fox, a local news channel, reported that district officials offered to help Kennedy find a private place to pray after games. The coach refused to accept the accommodation and subsequently threatened to file suit against the district with the assistance of the Liberty Institute, a Plano, Texas-based Religious Right group.
“The school district violated federal law by denying Coach Kennedy’s request for religious accommodation. Their violation of the law cannot go unanswered. We are committed to protecting Coach Kennedy’s right to religious freedom,” said Michael Berry, one of Kennedy’s attorneys.
According to The Seattle Times, some Bremerton High School students object to Kennedy’s actions; they recently invited local Satanists to deliver an invocation at a football game.