High School Boots Praying Football Coach

By Todd Starnes Published on October 29, 2015

Coach Joe Kennedy has been booted from the locker room at Bremerton High School in Washington State, Fox News has learned exclusively.

Superintendent Aaron Leavell placed the longtime coach on administrative leave after he refused to stop his post-game prayers.

“Effective immediately, pending further District review of your conduct, you are placed on paid administrative leave from your position as an assistant coach with the Bremerton High School football program,” Level wrote to the coach in an Oct. 28th letter. “You may not participate, in any capacity, in BHS football program activities.”

Kennedy, who is a devout Christian, had been under investigation since September after someone complained about his post-game prayers at the 50-yard-line.

Kennedy, who is a devout Christian, had been under investigation since September after someone complained about his post-game prayers at the 50-yard-line.

He was directed to cease and desist those prayers on Sept. 17th. He was also ordered to avoid kneeling, bowing his head or doing anything that could remotely be seen as religious.

“You violated those directives by engaging in overt, public and demonstrative religious conduct while still on duty as an assistant coach,” Leavell wrote.

Leavell had offered to let the coach engage in “private prayer” following the football games — provided no child could see the coach petitioning the Almighty.

The district’s accommodation for the coach’s “hush-hush, clandestine” prayers would be allowed  “so long as your brief, private religious exercise would not interfere with your performance of your continuing duties as an assistant coach.”

It’s unconscionable that a progressive school district would advocate shoving people back into a closet.

Coach Kennedy is represented by Liberty Institute, the nation’s largest law firm dedicated to defending religious liberty.

Attorney Hiram Sasser said the school district is being hostile towards Christianity.

“They are sending the message to all people of faith that they are not welcome,” Sasser told me.

Leavell noted in his letter to the coach that instead of meeting with him, he ignored their directives and prayed following the Oct. 23 football game.

However, Sasser said that’s not exactly accurate.

“We tried to meet with the school officials in-person but they refused to meet,” the attorney told me. “We were only able to have a brief hour and a half call with their lawyer, and the result was a letter banning private prayer just a few hours before last Friday’s game.”

Liberty Institute has already laid the groundwork for a lawsuit against the school district — accusing them of religious discrimination.

“It is unfortunate this school district is choosing litigation instead of a simple meeting,” Sasser said.

It is also unfortunate that the Bremerton School District and Superintendent Aaron Level have shown such animosity towards a good and honorable Christian man like Joe Kennedy.


Todd Starnes is host of Fox News & Commentary, heard on hundreds of radio stations. His latest book is God Less America: Real Stories From the Front Lines of the Attack on Traditional Values. Follow Todd on Twitter@ToddStarnes and find him on Facebook.

This article originally appeared on Fox News October 28, 2015, and is reprinted with permission. 

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