Nearly 50 members of Congress have signed a letter supporting a Bremerton assistant football coach who leads voluntary prayer sessions after games.
Forty-seven members of Congress, including the heads of the “Congressional Prayer Caucus,” have voiced support for a Bremerton High School coach whose job is in jeopardy because he prayed on the field after being directed not to.
Signers of the letter supporting assistant football coach Joe Kennedy include the two Republican co-chairs of the congressional prayer group, Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma and Rep. Randy Forbes of Virginia
One member of Washington’s delegation, Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Pasco, is among those signing the letter dated Tuesday to Bremerton School Superintendent Aaron Leavell and Bremerton High School Principal John Polm.
The school district is reviewing Kennedy’s job status after he defied its orders and prayed at the field’s 50-yard line on Oct. 16.
Meanwhile, members of The Satanic Temple of Seattle say they plan to counter Kennedy’s prayer session with a “postgame Satanic invocation” after Friday’s game at Bremerton.
A news release from the group said it is doing so “to ensure that our faith is allowed equal representation” at the games.
The letter from members of Congress said the voluntary prayer moments Kennedy has led do not violate the constitutional separation of church and state.
That principle, the letter says, “does not prohibit the government from referencing religion altogether, nor does it require that government officials proactively scrub all references of religion from the public square.”
The letter says the Supreme Court has reviewed and allowed “the voluntary observance of a brief prayer at the beginning of a legislative session — a tradition that is also embraced by both the United States Senate and House of Representatives.”
The letter comes after State Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn voiced support for the school district, adding that allowing the prayer sessions could make the school district vulnerable to lawsuits.
Kennedy started doing the prayer sessions alone in 2008, and they have grown to include players, fans and other coaches.