Joe Kennedy, the assistant football coach at nearby Bremerton public high school, had a ritual after every football game where he knelt and led a prayer with his team on the 50-yard line. His actions were in flagrant violation of the Establishment cause; he was a public school official acting in official capacity, on school grounds, and involving his student players in his prayer ceremony. The high school warned coach Kennedy that his actions were illegal and ordered him to stop; he continued his post-game prayer anyway.
Many students felt this was a violation of their religious rights, and that players would feel compelled to participate in the prayer to stay in good standing with the coach. Several Bremerton High School students and staff reached out to the Satanic Temple of Seattle and invited us to come represent their secular beliefs by performing a Satanic invocation at the next football game, the school’s last home game on October 28, 2015. Our invocation would take place at the same time as Coach Kennedy’s prayer, on the football field at the 50 yard line.
After we asked the school for permission to come give our contrasting invocation, the district suspended Joe Kennedy, who had to remain on the sidelines for the last home game. Though we did not get to give our invocation on the field, neither did the coach.
We wanted to come support the brave students who had dared to reach out to us, so we made an appearance outside the football game, where we got to meet those students and community members who had invited us to come give the invocation. Despite the mob of students yelling “Jesus” and throwing holy water on us, we had a fantastic time meeting those who had asked us to come.
Eventually, the district chose not to renew Kennedy’s contract.
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