Thursday, December 17, 2015

Praying Coach Takes Stand--Files Legal Complaint

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Bremerton High School football coach Joe Kennedy became national news when he ignored the school's demand to stop doing what he had been doing for 8 years--saying a short prayer at the 50 yard line following each game.

Because he prayed, they suspended him on October 28, and have now fired him by refusing to renew his contract.

Interestingly, another coach does chants to Buddha near the 50 yard line. He has not even been reprimanded, much less fired.

Kennedy is now taking legal action.

Coach Kennedy said this week he has been notified that the school district will not renew his contract---he's fired.

Although Kennedy was hired in 2008 and has had a tradition of praying, it was a non-issue until this fall.

For the past several years, some players from both teams had begun joining him for the short prayer. In fact some have said they came to the games because that brief moment of prayer with opponents kneeling together to acknowledge God was so meaningful.

The team captain said earlier this year that although he considers himself an atheist, he would often join the prayer because he liked the community feeling.

KREM TV in Spokane and TV stations in Yakima, Tri-Cities and Seattle are all reporting that the school was "concerned that students could feel coerced to participate in religious activity when they see their coaches lead or endorse it."

"Feel coerced?"

What about the anti-religious, immoral teaching that is regularly forced upon students in the classroom regarding human sexuality, abortion and family structure?

Humanism and secular progressivism is itself a kind of religion for those who embrace the dogma and practice the rituals.

With a good number of activist teachers passionately presenting this material, is there no concern that students may "feel coerced to agree with it," particularly when they are being graded on the material?

The atheist captain and a number of other players said they were never encouraged, nor did they feel any pressure to join the few minutes of prayer.

The press reports that the high school principal "became aware of the prayer this past fall."

I doubt that. I suspect someone somewhere decided to "separate church and state"---or else. The school panicked at the thought of a law suit and caved, even though "the prayer" was an important part of the community and no one felt compelled to pray.

I have been told that someone complemented the school for having the prayer following the game.

However, it became an issue---it is now a freedom of religious expression issue.

Now the school is faced with a formal complaint filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

If necessary, the case, I'm told, will proceed to court.

In the complaint, Kennedy and his lawyer claim the district did not punish the team's offensive coordinator for conducting Buddhist chants in a similar manner.

So the Buddhist can chant, but the Christian can't pray.

Kennedy told Fox News' Todd Starnes why he has responded the way he has to this issue.

"It largely has to do with me being a Marine and a veteran---fighting for the constitutional rights of all Americans", he said. "I still believe in America being home of the free and the brave. AI haven't seen that lately. We constantly back down because someone could be offended. But that's not the American way. We talk about practicing tolerance and acceptance and diversity yet we are not living up to that. As an American, I can't sit by and let that happen."

Coach Kennedy says although the school's action was a "gut shot," he knew it was a possibility.

However, he says, "Given what has happened in the growth and development of the football program over the past eight years," he also thought the school may want to sit down and work through the issue with him.

Unfortunately public education does not function on actual positive progress as a primary goal.

Political Correctness has neutered excellence and achievement.

As of yesterday, school officials would not talk to the press, however, Kennedy's Liberty Institute attorney Mike Berry was talking.

Berry says Kennedy's religious discrimination complaint with the EEOC stems from the district's prohibiting his "private" religious expression.

The district has said that Kennedy is "on duty" until all players are dismissed, and that federal law and district policy prohibit school employees from engaging in religious activities with students present.

Berry says the district also discriminated against Kennedy when it barred him from games putting him on paid leave.

Berry says the school district has forced him and Kennedy into this position due to the adverse action they took against the coach.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. The EEOC could sue the district if it finds that Kennedy's complaint has merit.

Clearly a favorable ruling by the EEOC will work in favor of Kennedy in his attempt to get his job back, which he wants.

If the EEOC denies him any protection, he can still sue the district.

Here's the irony for the district.

Kennedy works full time at the Naval Yard in Bremerton, and part time for the district as assistant coach. He has been working toward a full time head coach job.

His employment reviews have been stellar during the past 8 years. He is loved by students, facility and the community, and has been publicly credited as being a primary force in building the total football program to it's best performances in recent history.

He has also been credited with developing character and values in the athletes with whom he has worked.

Head football coach Nate Gillam resigned suddenly at the end of the season---just a couple of weeks ago. He is giving only "personal reasons" as to why he resigned.

The school is now faced with a natural progression of promoting an assistant coach who has been with the program for 8 years, is greatly responsible for making it successful, and is well liked and respected by all, to become head coach---or, kicking him further under the bus because he prays after football games.

We'll continue to follow this as it develops.

This is not what our Founders had in mind. Nor is it what Thomas Jefferson had in mind when he promised the Danbury Baptists he and the other Founders had created a wall or protection for the church---a wall that was intended to keep the government out of the affairs of the church.

Be Informed. Be Vigilant. Be Bold. Be Prayerful.


  1. Sorry Gary. Long established law a teacher can't pray in the presence of students, most specifically in 1994. Even first warning of school prayer advocacy groups such as 'teachers who pray' is 'teachers can not pray in the presence of students'. All this is going to do is lead to a confirmation of this well established judgement as coach Kennedy has been offered multiple accommodations to pray outside of the presence of students and has rejected them. The EECO will rule against him as it must, the 9th circuit will uphold its 1994 ruling and the SCOTUS will either reject the appeal as they did before or accept the case and confirm the ruling.

    If truthfully another coach is violating this policy the solution is to send them a cease and desist letter too.

    What would Jesus say about a coach that requires an audience, a 50 yard line, and a spotlight to pray?

    1. Question for Oshtur Vishanti: What about the Buddhist? Your comments, please.

    2. What buddhist? The only time we have heard about this is from an unreliable source, the couch and his legal team which have not been the most accurate sources of information (they once claimed the players were in the locker room when the coach prayed and how many pictures have you seen giving lie to that assertion?)

      But if there is indeed a government employee doing so in the presence of students they should be told to stop too and offered the same accommodations to pray outside the presence of students that was offered to coach Kennedy.

      The difference will probably be that the buddhist will gladly accept the offer since their religion doesn't require a 50 yard line, audience or spotlight for their piety like the coach's.

    3. What do you suppose Jesus would say to a man who requires an internet blog to confuse people, and work to undermine their Constitutional rights? A man is in a sorry condition who will look to any law which pales in the face of the Constitution itself.

    4. What Jesus says to Gary about his internet blog is his concern and something we can't know. We do know that He mocked those who wear their piety on their sleeve in public displays like the coach here.

      That government employees in schools can't even give the impression of violating the establishment clause is a constitutional decision, not a law. This coach was offered religious accommodation that was both legal and constitutional and he refused it. His choice. Again, if he can't do his government job as required there are lots of private sector ones.

  2. It's time for a lot of people in government, whether political government, or even school government, and judges themselves, who sit on a bench, to get active again in preserving our Constitution, and start defending it...So would not allowing a coach to pray right after the game ends (and also tending to discourage anyone else who would join him in doing that) would that tend to ..form a MORE PERFECT UNION? I remember hearing from some who visited Berlin on a tour back when the wall was still there, they said "You wouldn't believe the difference in the people." and they talked about how glad they all were to be Americans. Nobody talked to anybody, on the dark side of the city. They were always afraid of the government and getting arrested. They didn't live in freedom. Apparently they didn't really know what it was. Their visit was short and they could only see a bit of what Communism was like, but they saw enough to be so thankful to be an American...apparently not such a PERFECT UNION, then, at the time...Well there's so much in our Constitutional Preamble to look at. Hope people again start seriously reading it. It's about US.

  3. So Bremerton fires Kennedy, and he loses his job. Now the school's football program fades back into obscurity. Sounds like a win-win for the school, does it not? Nice job!

  4. So now they have a football coach who does Buddha chanting on the 50. Is this what our founders had in mind? (Context being what it is) Does it now work to ESTABLISH A MORE PERFECT UNION?
    What should we suppose in the minds of the founders, was the source of perfection? Does any Good Book come to mind? Didn't they say that this can only be a Constitutional and free America if it has it's moral foundation? The real vision they had will only happen when America is restored to it's original spiritual condition or better....and all that Buddha chanting? won't help. It absolutely is not a help.


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