An assistant football coach in Bremerton, Washington, is being investigated for allegedly praying during high school football games. Joe Kennedy, who coaches Bremerton High School’s junior varsity squad and is an assistant coach of the varsity team, could lose his job if he is found guilty of pressuring football players into joining his prayers.
Kennedy, a Marine veteran, has been famous for reciting a prayer after every game on the field’s 50-yard line. He has been doing this for close to a decade.
Kennedy’s prayer: “Lord, I just want to lift up all these warriors that came out here to compete today. I don’t care what their beliefs are. We do believe in this sport. We believe in football, we believe in a team and competition. It’s all about the game. In your name, Amen.”
The Bremerton School District launched an investigation into Kennedy’s penchant for prayer after a game on Sept. 7, when he was joined by players and parents on the field during his after-game prayer.
“I never asked anyone,” says Kennedy. “They just all showed up one day and the next thing I know, the other team was showing up with us.”
Kennedy insists he has never coerced players into praying with him. If the investigation proves otherwise, he will have violated district policy, which states that school staff cannot influence students one way or the other on prayer.
Kennedy’s community has come to his defense, reports King 5. "He doesn't tell the kids that if they don't come out and pray they're not going to play,” says Bremerton resident Wanda Stone. “The kids are voluntarily going out there."
A Facebook group was established in support of Kennedy in response to a distressing post by the assistant coach. “I might have gotten fired from coaching tonight,” Kennedy wrote on the social media outlet.
Bremerton High School has not fired Kennedy, nor has it put him on administrative leave.
Bremerton community members are orchestrating a rally in support of Kennedy to be held on Sept. 18.
"The only thing I worry about is the kids,” says Kennedy. “It's not about what my beliefs are, it's about believing in each other. It's about the sport that we love."