Controversy regarding Bremerton coach, prayer

After Friday’s football game between Bremerton and Klahowya, the two teams met at midfield at Silverdale Stadium for a quick prayer.

On Saturday, Bremerton assistant football coach Joe Kennedy posted on his Facebook account that he might be fired for leading the prayer after the game. He said someone spoke to him after the game about not being allowed to lead the prayer and that his job might be in jeopardy if he continued.

Here is what I can gather after talking with Bremerton athletic director Jeff Barton on Saturday evening about Kennedy’s claim.

Barton said he wasn’t sure who talked to Kennedy, but it wasn’t Barton, and the athletic director said no one has been fired.

Regarding leading prayer after games, Barton said the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association rule is that prayer during high school competition is something that a coach can’t force players to do. It has to be voluntary and it’s supposed to be players/students leading the prayer, not coaches.

Barton said Bremerton coaches are routinely made aware of this rule and he plans to address it again on the heels of the situation involving Kennedy.


28 thoughts on “Controversy regarding Bremerton coach, prayer

  1. I see absolutely nothing wrong with a coach leading prayer. If people do not want to play with him then they can walk away. It is a constitutional right to do this!

    1. There is no right for agents of a public school to lead students in prayer nor to participate in prayers with students while acting in the role of an agent of that school. You wouldn’t be singing the same tune if it was your child with a Muslim or Satanist coach. The law protects everybody. Advocating that people break the law harms us all. I recommend you familiarize yourself with the relevant case law before trying to say what are and are not rights.

  2. I see absolutely nothing wrong with a coach leading prayer. If people do not want to pray with him then they can walk away. It is a constitutional right to do this!

  3. The need for a separation between church and state has been deliberated since Thomas Jefferson advocated a “wall” between the two. While individuals should be allowed to practice their faith (or absence of such), no institution or its representative should promote such a practice. In this case, the assistant coach clearly “led” the prayer and should be counseled not to do so in the future.

  4. If the Coach’s job is in jeopardy then his boss should be brought in for evaluation, as we live in America where there really is FREEDOM of Speech
    The students prayed voluntarily..they weren’t forced to pray nor were they threatened to lose their right to Play if they prayed. Let it be.

  5. Follow the law. A simple requirement. If you can’t follow the law, you don’t have a right to cost the school district court costs defending a case it is 100% guaranteed to lose. If you refuse to abide by the law, you may leave or they may terminate you from your position. If following the law is an undue burden, then find a different way to spend your time. Simple as that.

  6. Oh my GOD. What has happened to the world. You know I went to school in Texas (where football is like a second religion) back in the 80s & early 90S. We used to say the Lords prayer before each game and after each game. Sometimes both teams did it if a player was seriously hurt. We did that for every sport at the school Baseball, basketball, Volleyball, Track, etc. Even those who was atheist. Because that was a moment of Peace that brought us together as a team and as Brothers and Sisters. I had family that went to schools and different times in Spokane and they would say the Lords Prayer before their games. The world and in my opinion this state has become so politically correct that people are going to buck the new system just for the sake of doing it no matter the rules or what may happen. I was at that game and did not realize that was what they did and me personally would not have a problem with it. The only problem that I had with it was the fact that the Oly game was about an hour late and I was waiting on that game to start and maybe they could have down it on the sidelines. But now that I know why, I guess there was no harm and no foul. But if this coach gets fired, then I guess they better fire all the coaches and faculty from both teams that was out there involved with the prayer. And then tell National Media and watch the county blow up with more PC crap. No one got hurt doing the prayer and if someone does not want to participate, then dont. Keep to yourselves and allow those to do the prayer. Show them the respect of what they believe in. But since there did not look like there was any players not in the middle, then they probably dont have a problem with it. But the parents might be a different story. Keep the Faith Ya’ll.

    1. I truly find it ironic that we, as Bible believing, relationship oriented Christians, are challenged because we choose to ask the God of creation to watch over us and keep us healthy and lead us in righteousness as adults first, parents, then as coaches, to help and cover the health and well being of our young athletes. However, when something drastic happens typically, you the challenger, immediately turn to the same God of creation and ask for help or blame Him for the crisis. How, uh hmm well, crazy no schizo no, simply backwards is our thinking in a Nation we claim to be “Under God”. That would be a reference to, the covering of, when you say “Under”. People, “what are we doing?” We can’t turn God away until we think we need Him and then expect that He will just be there. But you know what, He is a loving God and He will be there. Question though, “How do you feel when your child or best friend or co-worker turns you away at every bid but when they need something they know you possess and will likely share, they come asking, with the full expectation that you will completely fulfill their request?” I think you should thank God that you are not God. We would have a lot less in this world.

  7. This “Coach” puts the school district and taxpayers at serious risk of a lawsuit. I wonder what folks would think of him if Bremerton had to cancel their sports program because they lost millions in a lawsuit?

    You can’t act like Kim Davis and use your personal religious beliefs to flaunt the rules. He’s supposed to be a coach and mentor to these kids. Teaching them to only follow the rules you like is wrong, he needs to follow the rules or be fired. If I break the rules at my job, I get fired.

  8. Seriously this is big news? Isn’t the world full of awful things happening to kids and some people in our community are choosing to attack a man with values making a difference in kids lives….and for praying!! Get real! For the love enough with the ‘everything offends me’ nonsense find a real cause, go feed the hungry, build homes for the homeless but seriously think about how ridiculous it is to be wasting time being offended by this and thank this man for giving so much of his time and life being a good person in our community. Teenagers are hard we need more good people willing to give of themselves like he does and be there for them. Kudos Coach Kennedy keep up the good work!

  9. I hope Jeff Barton uses his God given common sense and let this be. We can praise everybody’s religion but our own. Lest we not forget what religion this country was founded on (God and the love for Him). I agree with BEARTEX3 and his comment.

  10. We are to have freedom of religion…not freedom from religion…the kids are doing this voluntarily…the parents aren’t objecting..his boss didn’t talk to him who is interjecting and investigating and why??

    1. So, the law doesn’t apply if you don’t mind that the law is being broken? Is that really the example you think should be set for children?

  11. So I was at a JV football game the other day and I was talking to some of the girls that I coach on my select softball team and I guess this story is the talk of several schools all around the Sound. From Tacoma all the way to PA. My girls who all go to different schools said they dont understand what the big deal is, since all the schools sports teams all say a prayer before a game. And not just football. What happens in the locker room stays in the locker room.

        1. The Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that teachers, principals, administrators, and all agents of the public school (paid AND voluntary) may not initiate, lead, mandate, or participate in prayers with students in their capacity as agents of the public school.

          There are links to the various cases that inform this nationwide rule for publicly-funded schools.

          So, I ask again: should everybody be required to follow the law? Simple question. Yes or no.

          I have yet to have someond who claims to support what this coach is doing answer this question. Will you be the first?

          1. Nope. Because there are laws on the books that are there but even law enforcement officers that dont enforce them. I mean there is a speed limit on the road, but do cops pull over people who drive faster than the posted speed. Only if they are doing something really stupid. Just an example.

            But I guess that should mean that just about every sports coach, especially football coaches should be fired and then sent to jail. Because I know for a fact that those football teams say a prayer before each game. And if a player says it dont happen, then they are lying. Because what happens in the locker room, stays in the locker room. Not one of those players on a team is forced to say a prayer. None of us was forced, but we all did it, because it showed unity among all of us who were different religions. But it is only a big deal if an outsider makes it a big deal. And you know Randy, you give me the impression that you will make a big deal out of this, even though it has nothing to do with you.

          2. Beartex3: Care to make a wager? If this ends up resulting in litigation, you donate $10 to a charity of my choice in your name if he loses and this is decided to be illegal. If I’m wrong, $10 goes to a charity of your choosing in my name.

            Do you have $10 worth of confidence in your argument being legally valid?

            By the way, constitutional law is VERY different from antiquated laws passed in times passed and rendered irrelevant by time. The first amendment is NOT rendered irrelevant by time, nor the freedoms it affords and the restrictions it embodies.

  12. Randy

    Why are you making a big deal out of this?

    Plus I dont really care about the legality about this whole mess. What I care about is how those players would feel if all of a sudden they are told that their coaches got fired because they still participate in a tradition that goes back to when my parents played sports. And that is all it is. A tradition. Those players and coaches dont think about religion or church when they say their prayer. They are thinking that maybe what they are saying as a team that has come together for a moment, is not to get hurt and to play to the best of their ability. And it helps them to have “FAITH” in their ability and their teammates ability and their coaches ability to get them through the game. They could make the law punishable by death if the team says the Lords Prayer before a game and I guarantee you this, they would still do it. I would not waste my $10 on a wager about the law. Cause frankly it is all moot. Prayers have been said before sporting events amateur and professional for 100 years and everything was ok, till someone like you came along and said hey you cant do that. And because of people like you, now people do it twice as much. So you can take it to the bank and to court and even get every coach in the Nation fired for saying a prayer, but all that would do is make you look like an

    1. You don’t care if someone breaks the law if a kid’s feelings might get hurt due to the lawbreaking being portrayed as legal by the lawbreakers? That is your position? Wow. I hope you never serve on a jury as long as you live. The courts have a hard enough time without people who explicitly want people to disregard the law if they like doing something illegal. That is what you think is a good example to set for kids. I pity any kids you may influence, and the people who have to deal with them as adults.

          1. That is for me to know and you to find out. But I will tell you this. I went a watched a Jr High football game yesterday and hey guess what I noticed both teams saying a prayer before the game. I even heard a coach say Thank God during a play. Just thought you might want to know. HAHAHA

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