A Washington State high school football coach is on paid leave after refusing to stop praying at mid-field following football games.
Joe Kennedy is an assistant at Bremerton High School. He was put on paid administrative leave suspended just before the team's last regular season game. He can't return to the sidelines until he promises not to pray after games.
After defying the school's order not to pray at an October 16, 2015 game, Kennedy told the Seattle Times, "I always taught my kids to do what's right ... and fight for what you believe in."
The alternative was to hide his faith. Not exercise it publicly. Where is his religious freedom? https://t.co/1sum6WV6BR-- Tony Dungy (@TonyDungy) October 29, 2015
In a statement the Bremerton School District 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."
Kennedy is represented by the Liberty Institute. The Institute's Deputy Chief Counsel Hiram Sasser said in a statement, "a simple disclaimer that Coach Kennedy's prayers are his private speech will suffice to avoid any constitutional concerns."