High school coach keeps job after defying district order against post-game prayer

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

BREMERTON, Wash. -- Joe Kennedy, the assistant football coach at Bremerton High School who defied orders and prayed on the field after Friday night's football game, still has his job.

The school district had warned Kennedy not to pray, but the coach vowed to continue his tradition.

But now at least one Bremerton man wants the district to take disciplinary action against Kennedy.

On Friday night, Kennedy kept his promise to pray on the 50-yard line. He maintains his prayers were private and he didn’t ask anyone to join him.

“Me thanking God for what they (football players) just did -- how could that possibly be wrong in the eyes of society, the courts, or anybody?” Kennedy asked on Friday.

According to the district, the prayer, even though Kennedy claims it was personal and silent, violates the separation of church and state.

Kennedy and his lawyers believe it’s a matter of free speech.

“It was about my personal faith,” Kennedy said after Friday’s game. “And when the district came out and said I couldn’t, you know, practice my faith, and I don’t need to be praying with kids and raising helmets and everything, that’s not my belief.”

On Monday, the district said coach Kennedy is still on the job but added:

“The district continues to hope that the district and Mr. Kennedy can arrive at common understandings that will ensure that the rights of all community members are honored and the law is respected.”

“I wanna see everybody treated the same and nobody feel left out or excluded,” said Bremerton High School graduate Wesley Bonetti.

Bonetti was at Friday’s game and watched as players from both teams joined coach Kennedy in prayer.

Bonetti complained to the district last week and now wants to see Kennedy punished for violating the law.

“He can say it’s a private and silent but he is a school employee until all the players are out of their uniforms and on their way home,” said Bonetti.

Kennedy went on the FOX News Channel over the weekend to share his feelings about Friday night's prayer.

“Really overwhelming to see the support form the opposing team out there,” said Kennedy. “Them and their coaches out there supporting what I was doing and praying alongside me.”

The Bremerton School District is reviewing Friday night’s prayers to see if Kennedy violated policy.