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Coach Won't Stop Praying on Field After Friday Night Games

Image: Coach Won't Stop Praying on Field After Friday Night Games
Assistant coach Joe Kennedy.  (Liberty Institute)

By    |   Tuesday, 20 Oct 2015 10:32 AM

Defying the school district's order, a high school football coach in Washington state has continued to pray on the 50-yard line following Friday night games.

Bremerton High assistant coach Joe Kennedy knelt as his players left the field Friday night and prayed. The Kitsap Sun reported players from the other team and others joined him.

The school district said in a statement issued on Monday that Kennedy's employment status is unchanged. School officials are reviewing the events of Friday night and were talking to the coach's lawyers.

"The district continues to hope that the district and Mr. Kennedy can arrive at common understandings that will ensure that the rights of all community members are honored and the law is respected," district spokeswoman Patty Glaser said in a statement.

Bremerton Superintendent Aaron Leavell has said Kennedy's long-standing practice of praying on the 50-yard line runs counter to the constitutional mandate for separation of church and state. He said in a statement before Friday's game that staff must refrain from religious expression while on duty.

Kennedy initially agreed to abide by the prayer ban, The Kitsap Sun reported, but he knelt in silent prayer at Friday's homecoming game against Centralia. Leavell and other school officials were at the game.

Kennedy's law firm, Texas-based firm Liberty Institute, says the district has no right to ban the coach from personally praying. They say he didn't encourage or discourage students from participating.

The team's junior varsity game scheduled for Monday in Centralia has been canceled. Kennedy coaches the junior varsity team and is assistant coach of the varsity team.

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Defying the school district's order, a high school football coach in Washington state has continued to pray on the 50-yard line following Friday night games.
coach, praying, field
264
2015-32-20
Tuesday, 20 Oct 2015 10:32 AM
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