ICC Note: As previously reported, high school football coach Joe Kennedy was fired after repeatedly praying on the 50-yard line at the end of each game. Although no students were forced to join him, Kennedy was told to stop praying and the school district opted not to renew his contract, leaving him without a job. In the midst of the legal battle that has followed, a federal judge recently denied a preliminary injunction against the school district responsible for firing the coach.
By Heather Clark
09/21/2016 United States (Christian News Network) – A federal judge has declined to grant a preliminary injunction against officials with a Washington school district who fired a high school football coach in the midst of a battle over his desire to pray at the 50-yard line.
U.S. District Judge Ronald Leighton, nominated to the bench by then-President George W. Bush, announced on Monday that he was denying the request for the injunction, which would have required the Bremerton School District to re-hire Coach Joe Kennedy while his case moves forward in court.
As previously reported, Kennedy, the former assistant head coach for the varsity team at Bremerton High School and the head coach for the junior varsity team, was placed on paid administrative leave last October when he prayed at the conclusion of the homecoming game despite an order to cease his practice.
Kennedy said that he began offering brief prayers on the field in 2008, then praying on his own. He was subsequently approached by several team members who asked what he was doing.
“I was thanking God for you guys,” Kennedy recalls responding. “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.’”
He said that he never asked students to pray with him, but some desired to, including those from the opposing team.
“They just all showed up one day and the next thing I know, the other team was showing up with us,” Kennedy said.