Bremerton, WA, High School football assistant coach Joe Kennedy has been suspended from coaching his high school football teams because after each game he leads a voluntary prayer session with his players and others wishing to join in at the 50 yard line.
The school district says it’s afraid of being seen as endorsing religion. It prefers, instead, to be seen as banning religion.
While the district appreciates Kennedy’s many positive contributions to the [Bremerton] football program, 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[.]
This is plainly bogus. No one is forced to participate in the prayer sessions. They occur after school functions—like the football game—have ended. According to the players themselves, he doesn’t even invite them to participate: he just does his thing, and the players on their own initiative join in. Or don’t.
It gets…better. As part of Kennedy’s suspension, Superintendent Aaron Leavell told him what else he’s not allowed to do.
He was also ordered to avoid kneeling, bowing his head, or doing anything that could remotely be seen as religious.
Leavell had offered to let the coach engage in “private prayer” following the football games—provided no child could see the coach petitioning the Almighty[.]
Because Christianity and being Christian are such shameful things, apparently, that they need to be kept hidden away in a back bedroom.
It’s interesting, too, that Kennedy has been doing these private, voluntary prayer sessions since 2008, yet “the school district” says it only just noticed them.
That’s such blatant nonsense that it’s a clear indication of the level of integrity with which the district is approaching this problem which it’s created.