Coach Suspended for Praying at HS Football Games Attends as Spectator, as Satanists Protest
While Kennedy prayed in the stands, Satanists gathered outside of the stadium.
— -- A group of Satanists showed up to a Washington state high school football game in response to the controversy surrounding a football coach who was placed on administrative leave for praying with some players at games.
Bremerton High School announced Wednesday that football coach Joe Kennedy was placed on paid administrative leave for continuing post-game prayers despite being warned to stop. Though Kennedy was barred from participating in the football program's activities, he may attend events on the same terms as any community member, the school said in a statement.
Kennedy attended Thursday's football game and prayed, but this time in the stands instead of on the field.
"It's funny that it was OK to pray where I was in the stands but not 100 feet from there," Kennedy told ABC News today. "I guess that the fence I was behind was the safe-to-pray place in America."
Kennedy added that it was "incredibly tough" to watch the game as a spectator instead of a coach but that he was "proud" of his players.
Also at the game, but outside the stadium, were about 13 members of the Satanic Temple of Seattle dressed in robes and ritual garb, Chapter Head Lilith Starr told ABC News today.
The Satanic Temple said on Monday that its members were available to attend the game on Thursday if anyone wanted them to. Three teachers and three students extended an invitation to the group, according to Starr.
"Originally, our plan was to do an invocation on the field at the same time Kennedy was doing his prayer in support of religious diversity," Starr said. "But when they put Kennedy on leave we withdrew our request."
Instead, the group only stayed for a little while to meet and talk with their supporters outside of the stadium before students inside starting yelling religious remarks and throwing things at the members, Starr said, adding that school officials, police officers and student supporters were polite and welcoming.
Before it was cancelled, Starr had planned to read an invocation on the field, followed by a ritual in which a woman dressed as Lucifer would give Starr an apple to bite, she would ring a gong and they would all say "Ave Satanas" (hail Satan) before walking off, Starr said.
Bremerton School District administrators declined to comment to ABC News today.