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Bremerton High School assistant football coach Joe Kennedy, the guy who continues to pray on the field despite several warnings that he’s violating the law, has now been put on paid leave by his school district.

This comes after he violated a promise not to pray on field last week and before he did it again at the team’s big playoff game later tonight.

According to the New York Times:

Bremerton School District officials said in a statement that assistant football coach Joe Kennedy was placed on leave Wednesday afternoon.

Officials say the leave was necessitated because of Kennedy’s refusal to comply with district directives that he refrain from engaging in overt, public religious displays on the football field while on duty as a coach. They say his conduct poses a risk that the district will be liable for violating federal and state constitutional rights of students.

Kennedy is currently being represented by Liberty Institute, a Christian legal defense group.

We know how conservative sites will spin this: This is Christian persecution! They’re trying to prevent a man from practicing his faith!

But he’s not being persecuted. All he has to do is be a coach instead of a fake martyr. He could pray silently all he wants, but he’d rather make a big public showing of his faith.

Even worse, he’s making Thursday night’s game all about him when the focus should really be on the athletes. He could have just coached them and the media attention would have disappeared. Instead, he’s arguing that a high school football field is where Jesus can hear him best.

No word yet from Liberty Institute, but I suspect they’re bound to do something. Christian “liberty” groups aren’t the types to let a good crisis go to waste.

The Satanic Temple chapter in Seattle had also been planning an invocation of their own following Kennedy’s prayer, but in response to his absence, leader Lilith Starr issued this statement:

In light of this action taken by the Bremerton School District, we withdraw all requests to perform invocations on school property or school events. We will not be performing a Satanic invocation after tomorrow’s football game, though Chapter members will still be attending to meet and in support of the students, teachers and community members who asked us to come represent their beliefs.

(Thanks to Brian for the link. This article has been updated to correct the name of the group representing Kennedy)

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Hemant Mehta is the founder of, a YouTube creator, podcast co-host, and author of multiple books about atheism. He can be reached at @HemantMehta.