BREMERTON, Wash., Oct. 14, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- On September 17, 2015, Bremerton High School sent a letter to Coach Joe Kennedy ordering him to stop praying after football games. (Read the school district's letter: http://libertyinstitute.org/coachkennedy)
Today, Liberty Institute sent a demand letter to the school district informing them that their demands are unconstitutional and asking them to drop the ban on the coach's post-game prayer. (Read Liberty Institute's letter to the school: http://libertyinstitute.org/coachkennedy)
Liberty Institute asked the school district to rescind their ban on Coach Kennedy's prayer by Friday, October 16 at 5:00 pm, in order to allow the coach to continue to pray after the homecoming game that evening. Coach Kennedy says he will exercise his constitutional right to pray privately, regardless of the school's response.
Coach Joe Kennedy says, "I love my players. It's an honor to work with them and teach them about good sportsmanship and teamwork. I hope the school district will allow me to continue working with these kids – and thanking God for them."
Hiram Sasser, Deputy Chief Counsel at Liberty Institute says, "Federal law requires the school district to allow Coach Kennedy to pray privately after the football game. We hope they will do the right thing by following the law and allowing Coach to pray."
Volunteer Counsel Anthony J. Ferate noted, "As an alumnus of the Bremerton School District, I am proud of the education I received. However, the District should check its homework and come back with a correct answer."
Coach Joe Kennedy is head coach for the Bremerton High School junior varsity football team and assistant coach for the varsity team. In 2008, Coach Kennedy saw a movie called Facing the Giants about faith and football, which inspired him to begin thanking God for his players after the games.
When the next football game ended and the players had cleared the field, Coach Kennedy walked alone to the fifty-yard line and prayed a short prayer, thanking God for his players, their safety, and their spirited competition. Coach Kennedy did not announce what he was doing and did not invite anyone to join him.
After a few games, some students asked if they could be there while Coach Kennedy prayed. He said, "It's a free country, you can do whatever you want." Since then, students have often voluntarily come to the fifty-yard line after the game where the coach is praying. Players from the opposing team join them occasionally.
For seven years, Coach Kennedy has prayed a short, 15-20 second prayer of thanksgiving. Coach Kennedy does not pray in the name of a specific religion or deity or even say "amen." No students, coaches, or parents have ever complained about the prayer.
Nevertheless, the Bremerton School District ordered Coach Kennedy to stop praying after the game, or even bowing his head or being physically present where students may be praying.
Liberty Institute attorneys say they will take legal action against the Bremerton School District if they do not rescind the ban on the Coach's prayer before homecoming on Friday night.
Coach Kennedy says he will pray after the homecoming game regardless of the school district's response.
Read more about this case at http://libertyinstitute.org/coachkennedy
About Liberty Institute
Liberty Institute is the largest nonprofit legal organization in the nation dedicated solely to defending religious liberty in America. Liberty Institute defends religious freedom for all.
To arrange an interview on this case, contact Kassie Dulin, Director of Legal Communications for Liberty Institute. Email: [email protected], Direct: 972-941-9575, Cell: 214-542-4334.
SOURCE Liberty Institute