Conflict of Faith on the Football Field

Does a school district have the right to tell a man that he cannot worship the Lord after a football game, with everyone involved? Joe Kennedy an assistant football coach at Bremerton High School in Washington is being joined by opponents and fans after the game to pray on the field. The Bremerton School District had said that if he prayed while on duty as a coach he would be violating federal law. This act of the school district telling him that he may not pray on the field is taking away his rights by the first amendment.  

fox_ff_coach_151015c-800x430On the day of their homecoming game, Coach Kennedy walked onto the field with the rest of his team and prayed, defying the order from the school district. When he opened his eyes on the field he found a massive group of supporters around him, praying with him.  This praying is a way of showing a thanksgiving for the safety of the players, the fairness of the game and for spirited competition. Over the years more students have progressively joined Coach Kennedy, all voluntarily. Kennedy says, “ I’m being investigated for thanking God for the opportunities that have been given me, it’s absolutely ridiculous.” The  school district has taken major issues with the coach’s locker room prayer pre-game and his prayer post-game. The superintendent said to Joe that “Your talk with students may not include religious express, including prayer.” His reasoning for this is that he wants no one teammate to be alienated by any other team members. School staff is not to participate in any religious activity with the students.

If the high school was a public high school and affiliated with a church then the students could participate with the teachers involving over religious matters. Many people have said that if Joe continues this act than it is “blatantly unconstitutional”. Liberty Institute wasn’t the Bremerton School District to accommodate Coach Kennedy’s religious beliefs. But regardless Kennedy planned on praying at midfield every Friday night, he does this knowing that it could cost him his job. The 1st Amendment says that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” (1st Amendment).

Joe has his freedom of religion but because the school is public they are not allowed to say that Joe cannot allow his religious beliefs to or to not be spoken of with his students allowed. By the acts of the First Amendment you can not take away someone’s freedom of speech, press, assembly, petition and in this case specifically religion. Because the high school is public and is under the legislature of the government or the school board they must follow the rules they have set. If the school was a private school then they could tell Joe what he could do because the private school has a choice, since they are not run by the government. Joe has the freedom to pray after football games and if others join without being forced then the school district should not have a problem with it.  

The freedom of religion is a necessity for all humans due to issues like these with Coach Kennedy. The school district does not have rights or the power to take away Joe’s freedom of religion. Coach Kennedy has the opportunity to worship the Lord after the football games with whomever he pleases.



About SaintsGOV16
We are students in Dr. Ostroff's sections of U.S. Government at All Saints' Episcopal School in Fort Worth, Texas. (

4 Responses to Conflict of Faith on the Football Field

  1. SaintsGOV16 says:

    I agree with the writer, that the coach reserves the right to exercise his religious preferences since he was not attempting to force anyone to join in his prayer, violating their rights. Kristin C.

    • govallenah says:

      Thanks for your response Kristin! I’m glad that you agree with me and that it is obvious that the coach has done nothing wrong because he hasn’t forced anyone to participate in his beliefs. I appreciate you!

  2. SaintsGOV16 says:

    I agree with the writer. The coach should be able to exercise his religion according to the first amendment. Well written essay

    • govallenah says:

      Thank you for your response to my article, I took a good amount of time focusing on the essay. I wanted to make a point that the 1st Amendment states all of his rights. There is nothing that he has done wrong to be told not to worship the Lord, because he hasn’t forced anyone to worship with him! Thanks so much!

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