A handful of members of the Satanic Temple of Seattle including their chapter leader attended Bremerton High School’s football game on Thursday after they persuaded school district to put coach Joe Kennedy on paid leave for praying at the 50 yard line after games.
On Thursday, coach Kennedy was also present, but he sat in the stands from where he watched the game and prayed again at the end of it. Satanic Temple members said that they were invited by several students and professors, and that they were ready to perform a ritual on the filed after the game in the name of religious expression if any of the students requested.
Kennedy was put on administrative leave because he wouldn’t comply with the school district’s request to pray overtly on the football field after the game. School district officials said that they didn’t want to be associated with any form of religion.
Bremerton School District also argued that football players and cheerleaders might have felt compelled to take part in the religious activity when their couch started praying. Kennedy replied that he never forced anyone to pray along. He started the practice seven years ago, and football players, professors, fans and other coaches simply joined in.
On Thursday, the ‘Praying Coach’ keeled once more in the stands along with a group of supporters and prayed. He told reporters that he was saddened to be separated from his football players but he was set to take the issue “as far as it goes.”
Abe Bartlett, the senior class president, admitted that he invited the satanists to pressure the school into taking a clear stance on praying on public grounds. The 17-year-old added that the school should either decline to be affiliated with any form of religion or simply allow all religious groups publicly express their beliefs.
Initially, coach Kennedy agreed to stop praying on the field but after contacting a religious-freedom organization from Texas he decided to resume the practice. He didn’t say the prayers loudly but he keeled for 15 to 20 seconds after greeting the other coaches.
His attorneys stated that he never forced anybody into praying. The Congressional Prayer Caucus urged the school’s superintendent to call the coach back. Kennedy was not fired and he can still attend games but not as a coach.
But when the members of the Satanic Temple made an appearance Thursday, they were met with jeers and religious chants. One student held a cross in his hand and yelled at them over the fence that “Jesus lives.” Some students even threw water at them as they were preparing to leave. They had a brief encounter, though, with the self-described atheist students that called them over.
Image Source: Pixabay
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