Congress is coming to the support of a Washington state football coach who has been ordered to stop praying on the field after games.
The Congressional Prayer Caucus wrote a letter Tuesday to the Bremerton (Wash.) School District arguing that high school Coach Joseph Kennedy has not violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment , as officials have claimed.
“Among the most basic rights that Americans enjoy are the free exercise of religion, free speech, and the freedom of association,” wrote caucus co-chairmen Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., and Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Va.
Kennedy started the tradition of praying on the 50-yard-line in 2008. He was told in a letter Friday that continuing that tradition would be grounds for discipline, including possible termination.
Kennedy, a Marine combat veteran, argues that he walks alone to the half-field mark to pray and is occasionally joined by students, opposing players and others.
The letter last week offered Kennedy a private, alternative place to pray.
He previously received at least one other warning from the school district: a Sept. 27 letter that in part stated: “Your talks with students may not include religious expression, including prayer. They must remain entirely secular in nature, so as to avoid alienation of any team member.”
Kennedy, who is getting legal counsel form the Liberty Institute, recently told Fox News: “I’m going to keep on praying.”