Bremerton Coach Plans to Pray Anyway

A standoff is scheduled to begin tonight at a Bremerton High School Football game.

What kind of a standoff?

A standoff between a former Marine and high school football coach and the school district he coaches in.

For the last seven years, Coach Joe Kennedy has walked to the 50-yard line and prayed after every junior varsity and varsity high school game at Bremerton High School, a ferry ride away from Seattle.

At the close of his very first game, Kennedy waited for the players and other coaches to clear the field. After his official coaching duties had ended, he walked to the 50-yard line, took a knee, and prayed, quietly but audibly. After a few games, some students asked what he was doing.

“I was thanking God for you guys,” Kennedy recalls telling his players. “Then a couple said they were Christians and asked if they could join. I responded, ‘It’s a free country, you can do whatever you want to do.’”

So some of them joined him.


As Kennedy’s own players made a practice of joining him, players from the opposing team would sometimes join in as well.

There’s nothing to suggest that players who don’t share Kennedy’s faith have felt alienated, ostracized, or otherwise excluded; just a former Marine, giving his time to invest in the next generation of men and exercising the freedoms he risked his life defending.

As Bremerton captain Ethan Hacker, a self-described agnostic, told the Seattle Times, “It’s about unity.  We can be mad at each other all we want during a game and get upset, but once the game is over, that all goes away. What (Kennedy) does brings us all together no matter how much we despise each other.”

He neither requests, encourages, nor discourages students from participating in his personal prayers, or coming to where he prays. His prayers neither proselytize nor denigrate the beliefs of others. And he has never received a complaint about his post-game personal prayers.

Under these circumstances, there is no constitutional prohibition against Coach Kennedy’s private religious expression.  The fact that students voluntarily join him should not make an otherwise constitutionally protected exercise of religion suddenly illegal.

Regardless, in September, the Superintendent of the Bremerton School District wrote a letter to coach Kennedy telling him that his practice of praying on the field after the game had to stop because it “expos[es] the District to significant risk of liability.”

On Wednesday, Coach Kennedy held a press conference with his attorney from the Liberty Institute to announce that he did not plan to stop praying.

Will it cost him his job?  Maybe.  That seems to be the world we live in now.  But if enough of us say “enough is enough”, we could stop that from happening.

Around the state, school districts are enacting policies that would allow a boy to go into the girls locker room if he believes he is a girl.  In Seattle, schools are giving girls as young as 11 IUD’s without their parent’s awareness.

But we’re concerned about the liability from a post-game prayer?

Tonight at 7:00, Bremerton High School is playing its Homecoming game against Centralia High School.  After that game, Coach Kennedy plans to say a prayer on the field as he has for so many years.   Maybe you should join him and bring some friends with you.  Watch a little football, show your support for his courage, stand-up for the first Amendment, and then say a prayer with Coach Kennedy.

When the fact that a football player might be encouraged to thank God for their life and abilities because of the example of their coach is more concerning to us than the fact that we will allow naked boys in the girl’s locker room if he says he’s a girl, it seems like it might be time to pray.

29 replies
  1. travaux plomberie
    travaux plomberie says:

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  2. Wendy
    Wendy says:

    I would just ask you if you would be fighting for the right of a Muslim to pray post game under the same circumstances using the First Amendment argument as well? If so, your points are authentic and legitimate. If not, I believe selective use of the First Amendment when it only serves your beliefs significantly undermines our constitution and your argument.

    • Shirley
      Shirley says:

      We shouldn’t have to fight for our GOD given inalienable rights.
      We were given these by our Creator.

      Muslims don’t acknowledge the Holy Almighty –but yes, if they feel led to submit to the Supreme LORD after a sporting event — we would honor their request to do so.

      (Our Founders/Writers of the Constitution would not be so likely to think this would be an issue.)

  3. Rowena
    Rowena says:

    Thank God for people like this Coach. Protect him and may his actions cause many, many players and fans to join him in prayer. May God have the glory.

  4. The Voice of a Child
    The Voice of a Child says:

    Knowing one can pray aloud or silently, it is never the intent to grandstand but to stand firmly on the platform we have. This coach is a true ‘coach’ who knowingly and firmly turns a deaf ear to the naysayers. Being obstinate is not a right. But it leads us to ask the bitter question, which direction should we lean? Towards the one man who opposes religious freedom or the one man who wants to have it?

    Our children need the comfort of the light this man shines into their hearts and lives. Walk forward, head held high. We stand with you.

  5. Paul Darlington
    Paul Darlington says:

    Praise God! As a fellow Christian, coach, and teacher, I’m proud of Coach K. For standing up for what he believes in. We need more role models like him!#GODISGREAT

  6. Faith
    Faith says:

    “Now thanks be to God who ALWAYS leads Coach Kennedy in triumph in Christ. (2nd Corinthians 2:14)
    “Coach Kennedy will be delivered from the hand of his enemies and serve the Lord without fear. (Luke 1:74)

  7. Missdee
    Missdee says:

    As a daycare teacher of l6 years, I know the value of role modeling prayer. Children, preteens, teenagers are searching for direction and what better way to dialogue with God, who knows every, single hair on their heads.

  8. Judy VH
    Judy VH says:

    PLEASE…if you can get to the game please go and prayer with him….support him and the other young Kuds that want to join him!!
    I’m 375 miles away and if I had more notice I would have driven.
    PLEASE DOE JOT BE POLITICALLY…that is what has gotten AMERICA into this situation. Stand up and be counted!! GOD BLESS YOU!!

  9. Ilene
    Ilene says:

    Thank God for you and those like you that STAND-UP. I do pray for you, Coach Kennedy. I don’t live in the area, but if I didn’t already have plans I’d probably be on the road so I could join you in prayer on the 50 yd. line. I will also pray that the people in that area are smart enough to realize how special it is to have you spending time with their children. The Superintendant needs to get his act together.

  10. mark
    mark says:

    GO Coach Kennedy. I am personally not into any type of sport, as I think sports are boring and a complete waste of my time. But what you are continuing to do (PRAY) is something I hope you will never stop doing. And I hope as many people as possible will voluntarily join you.

  11. Mike Campbell
    Mike Campbell says:

    I live in Eastern Washington so cannot attend the game. If I could, I would join coach Kennedy after the game and be honored to give a prayer of thanks with him. And woe be to the person who tries to prevent me from doing so, or tries to get into my face!

  12. Terry & Patti
    Terry & Patti says:

    Thank you, Coach Kennedy for standing up for you faith in God. All Christians are going to need to make decisions about their faith soon. We need to pray that we as a Nation will return to God. God bless you, Coach.

  13. David Jensen
    David Jensen says:

    Praise God for this man. In such a liberal, arrogant and God-less state like Washington we need to stand with this coach and pray for him. May God give him favor and bring the God-less at the school district to a point of confusion and irrational speech.

  14. Tionico
    Tionico says:

    It is preciesly because so many of our sort have let themselves be intimidated by the like of that stuporintendent that boys can now parade themselves into the girls’ bathrooms and showers with impunity. When WE fail to stand for righteousness, righteousness takes a leave of absence. Men like Coach Kennedy are the very ones who will, by their principled stands on the issues that matter, turn the tide once more. If the people of Bremerton and Kitsap County are smart, they’ll raly round this man and against his “superior” (in title only) because, if he’s fired, there WILL be a lawsuit and the people of Bremereton andKitsap COunty are the ones who will bear the cost. And this nitwit has the brass to talk about “liability”? On what basis does Coash’s praying create a “liabiity? The guy’s nuts.

  15. Marilynn Maddox
    Marilynn Maddox says:

    When men of principle can no longer exercise their God-given rights in this “great nation under God”, then something is dreadfully wrong! We need MORE Coach Kennedys – not more superintendents who are focused on stripping away the rights of individuals (Coach and students) who freely exercise their right to pray – without coercion or intimidation! There were no complaints – so what threat was this superintendent protecting against?

  16. Moki
    Moki says:

    I support Coach Kennedy, too. And yes, the First Amendment does protect his right to pray after each game, regardless of whether students join him. What is wrong with these people at public school districts who don’t comprehend that?

  17. Scott
    Scott says:

    The 1st Amendment is very clear on this. We have freedom of religion. As Dr. Benjamin Franklin said, “Those who give up freedom for temporary security deserve neither freedom nor security”. I support coach Kennedy. As retired Navy, I salute him!


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