BREMERTON, Wash. – Thursday marked the first football game for Bremerton High School since the district put Coach Joe Kennedy on paid leave for his decision to continue praying after each game, despite a district order to stop.
The disciplinary action means Kennedy was not allowed to be on the sidelines during the game. Instead, he sat in the stands at Bremerton Memorial Stadium and watched the game as a spectator. Several players embraced Kennedy as he entered the stadium just before kick-off.
“It just hurts my heart that we’re at this point where I’m on this side of the fence and my guys are in the locker room right now and I’ve got to be out here,” he said. “It’s tough.”
Kennedy and his lawyers have said they feel his right to religious freedom is being violated and plan to move forward with legal action against the Bremerton School District.
“I’m willing to take this as far as it goes to defend the right of the constitution,” said Kennedy. “Til the end. And if it comes back one way or another, I fought the good fight”
When the game ended just before 10 p.m., Kennedy bowed his head and prayed, but not in his usual spot on the 50-yard line. Instead, he did so in front of the bleachers, kneeling down and praying in the middle of a crowd of supporters.
Below is a timeline of the evening’s events that led up to that prayer: