Despite his suspension from his position as assistant high school football coach at Bremerton High School in Washington State for his refusal to stop praying following a protest by Satanists and atheist, Joe Kennedy said he would continue praying for his team to ask God to bless the future of his players and thank Him for a good game.
Kennedy was in New York on Monday to appear in Fox News and discuss the decision of the Bremerton School District for exercising his rights to pray and thank God. But he immediately flew back to Washington to watch his team play on Tuesday night for a playoff game.
Kennedy arrived in Port Orchard just in time to see his team defeated by their opponents, 28-17, of course the suspended coach watched the game from the stands, reported KiroTV.com.
"It crushes me not to be down there, you know, you're not with them to give them a hug," Kennedy said after the game.
Kennedy also watched Bremerton's game last Thursday as he hugged the players over a fence. As expected, he knelt down and prayed after the game where he was joined by a group of supporters.
He added that it causes him much pain and hurts in his heart not to be able to join his players in the locker room. However, Kennedy vowed to take his case "as far as it goes and by doing so says he's teaching his players "if you believe in something you stand up."
Kennedy was suspended by the district for refusing to follow orders to stop praying on the field as it is seen as an overt religious display. The district said it does not want to be seen as endorsing religion.
"While attending games may be voluntary for most students, students required to be present by virtue of their participation in football or cheerleading will necessarily suffer a degree of coercion to participate in religious activity when their coaches lead or endorse it," Bremerton School District said.
Bremerton senior class president Abe Bartlett, 17, and several other students invited The Satanic Temple of Seattle to attend the game to protest the school's tolerance of the coach's prayer, and to force the Bremerton School District to clarify its policy.
The report notes that after each football game since 2008, Kennedy, who is the assistant coach of the high school's football team, waits until the players have left the football field before walking onto the 50-yard line to kneel in quiet prayer for his students.
Kennedy told reporters that his prayers, which are about 30 seconds long, focus on thanking God for a good game and for the opportunity to be involved in his student's lives, and praying for God's blessing on their future.
While the football coach does not instruct students to join him, over time, many of his students voluntarily adopted the practice of joining their coach on the field.
"Whatever happens, happens you know," Kennedy insisted. "But I'm going to be bold in my faith and I'm going to fight the good fight, and I want to set that example for every one of the kids if you believe in something."