A Washington school district has sent a letter to Bremerton High School football coach Joe Kennedy telling him, in no uncertain terms, stop praying on the field or you could be fired.
“Any further violations will be grounds for discipline, up to and including discharge from district employment,” wrote Aaron Leavell, the superintendent, in a letter to Kennedy, Fox News reported.
Kennedy, meanwhile, who’s been fighting for the right to pray on the 50-yard line and in the locker room, both before and after the games, said he was shocked by the letter.
“I was really shocked,” he said to Fox News. “I went out of my way to accommodate them. All I wanted to do was pray, and now I can’t even pray at all.”
As WND previously reported, Kennedy has been praying for years before the game and after the game, mostly on the 50-yard line, for all the players’ safety, on both his team and visiting teams. Over time, others joined him in the prayer. And that’s when school administrators ordered him to stop, sending him a cease and desist letter.
Kennedy went on Fox News with an attorney from the Liberty Institute a couple weeks ago to announce his intent to continue the prayer, while at the same time confirming he’s stopped the locker room prayer with his team.
“The coach has a right as a citizen to go out there and pray and he doesn’t have a duty to flee the scene if other kids happened to come along,” said attorney Hiram Sasser, during the mid-October Fox interview.
But now, it seems the school is digging in deep.
The school wrote, via a letter from the superintendent: “Your talks with students may not include religious expression, including prayer. They must remain entirely secular in nature so as to avoid alienation of any team member.”
Paul Marshall, Lela Gilbert and Nina Shea have collaborated to create “Persecuted: The Global Assault on Christians,” which confirms that groups like Pew Research, Newsweek and The Economist also identify Christians as “the world’s most widely persecuted religious group.”
Leavell also said in his letter a “private location within the school building, athletic facility or press box could be made available to you for brief religious exercise before and after games,” Fox News reported.
Sasser, in response to this newest order from the school, said: “What they are saying is he cannot pray by himself, he cannot simply take a knee at the 50-yard line. That’s like telling a coach he can’t wear a yarmulke if he’s Jewish, he can’t wear a turban if he’s a Sikh, he can’t pray to Mecca if he’s a Muslim, he can’t wear a cross necklace if he’s a Christian.”
Liberty Institute is poised to sue the school for religious discrimination.
“They’ve already punished Coach Joe by denying his request for religious accommodation,” Sasser said to Fox News. “Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, they’ve already violated his civil rights.”
Sasser also said the case demonstrates just how far attacks against Christians in this country have progressed.
“When they find out a coach can’t even silently pray at the 50-yard line, there’s no greater message of hostility than that,” he said. “This is not a school being neutral. This is a school being hostile to religion, and we are going to hold them accountable.”
Kennedy, meanwhile, said once again he wasn’t quitting his prayer.
“I’m going to keep on praying,” he said, to the news outlet.