Coach Punished for Football Game Prayers
High school football coach Joe Kennedy has been put on paid administrative leave because he refused to stop praying in public at football games.
The Bremerton School District in Washington state made that decision Wednesday, saying the move was necessary because "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."
But Kennedy says it's actually his constitutional rights that are being violated.
"You're telling me that, you know, 'We'll give you a closet to go hide in,' and it's like, I'm an American citizen, I'm a tax payer, and this is my community. My kids go to that school and you're telling me that I can't do this," Kennedy said.
"You know, this is the land of opportunity and I'm seeing it all stripped away because I'm an employee," he continued.
Kennedy's attorneys at the Liberty Institute say the district has no right to ban the coach from personally praying, and they're ready to sue the school district.
"The ball is in their court, the school district's court. They have the opportunity to make this right, to do the right thing, to follow the law," said Liberty Institute Senior Counsel Michael Berry.
Kennedy recently resumed his postgame prayers after previosly pausing to obey the school's prayer ban. He's been silently taking a knee for 15 to 20 seconds at midfield after shaking hands with the opposing coaches.
His lawyers insist he is not leading students in prayer, just praying himself.