In Washington, a high school football coach who prayed at games despite orders from the school district to stop was placed on paid administrative leave Wednesday.
Bremerton High School Coach Joe Kennedy was placed on administrative leave because he refused numerous requests from his supervisors to stop his illegal post-game prayers.
The action was taken only days after representatives of the Satanic Temple announced they would be conducting their own prayers on the field the next time Coach Kennedy tried another postgame prayer.
Lilith Starr, chapter head for The Satanic Temple of Seattle, said:
We will be at Thursday’s game doing a postgame Satanic invocation on the field if Coach (Joe) Kennedy continues to pray. We won’t step on the field if he is stopped or doesn’t pray.
In an Oct. 28th letter to Coach Kennedy Bremerton Superintendent School District Aaron Leavell wrote:
Effective immediately, pending further District review of your conduct, you are placed on paid administrative leave from your position as an assistant coach with the Bremerton High School football program. You may not participate, in any capacity, in BHS football program activities.
Fox News reports Kennedy, who is a devout Christian, had been under investigation since September after someone complained about his post-game prayers at the 50-yard-line.
The New York Times reports Bremerton School District officials said in a statement that assistant football coach Joe Kennedy’s leave was necessitated because of his refusal to comply with district directives that he refrain from engaging in overt, public religious displays on the football field while on duty as a coach.
The statement said:
While the district appreciates Kennedy’s many positive contributions to the BHS football program, and therefore regrets the necessity of this action, Kennedy’s conduct poses a genuine risk that the District will be liable for violating the federal and state constitutional rights of students or others. For this reason, Kennedy will not be allowed to further violate the District’s directives.
Friendly Atheist reports the Seattle Satanic Temple chapter leader Lilith Starr issued the following statement:
In light of this action taken by the Bremerton School District, we withdraw all requests to perform invocations on school property or school events. We will not be performing a Satanic invocation after tomorrow’s football game, though Chapter members will still be attending to meet and in support of the students, teachers and community members who asked us to come represent their beliefs.
Bottom line: While some conservative Christians will charge “persecution,” the district had no choice but to give Coach Kennedy the boot. Kennedy should have never been praying while acting as coach of the public high school football team. Doing so clearly violated the federal and state constitutional rights of students and others.