A showdown over private prayer will likely move to court after school officials in Bremerton, Washington, suspended a high school football coach for privately praying after games, something he’s done for seven years without prior incident. Coach Joe Kennedy is barred from the final game of the season at Bremerton High School, his attorneys said. “I am devastated that the school district is denying me an opportunity to privately and silently pray for my players at the fifty,” Kennedy said in a statement issued by the Liberty Institute before the news of his suspension broke. “I love my players and I hope I can continue coaching them and being a part of their lives.”

Meanwhile, a student at Bremerton High School has invited representatives of The Satanic Temple to conduct their own private prayer after the game, media reports said. Kennedy’s actions made the 50-yard line — where the coach prayed after players departed the field — into an “open forum,” according to The Seattle Times. At the same time, dozens rallied outside of Bremerton High School on October 23 to pray for the coach and administrators, the local Bremerton Patriot reported. Mike Berry, a Liberty Institute senior counsel, said, “The school district violated federal law by denying Coach Kennedy’s request for religious accommodation. Their violation of the law cannot go unanswered. We are committed to protecting Coach Kennedy’s right to religious freedom.” FULL REPORT