OLYMPIA, Wash. — State lawmakers are considering a proposal to allow teachers and staff to pray after school sports. This became a big issue when a Bremerton coach faced punishment for praying on the field after football games.
The bill is being introduced by representative Jesse Young. His district includes Bremerton where Bremerton High’s assistant football coach Joe Kennedy clashed with school administrators over his post-game prayer circles.
Kennedy ignored orders from the school to stop praying on the 50-yard-line after games, based on school policy that prohibits staff from taking part in religious observances while on duty.
Kennedy refused to stop and was eventually placed on leave. The district did not renew his contract.
His story gained national attention and even support from Donald Trump during his presidential campaign.
Young's bill, if passed, would allow coaches to pray with players after games.
Schools that don't comply would face fines of up to $20,000.
Authors of the bill say freedom of speech and freedom of religion are a right we have to express under the Constitution.
So if passed, the legislation would effectively protect coaches like Kennedy who want to hold a prayer session with players after a game.
Kennedy's case is currently on appeal in U.S. District Court. He is asking to be rehired as a coach and to be allowed to pray on the sidelines during games.