A Washington state high school football coach is taking legal action after the school banned him from praying with players after the game.

A recent statement from the state superintendent called Bremerton Assistant Coach Joe Kennedy's practice "exclusionary or even distressing" for students who don't share the coach's faith.

Mike Berry, Senior Counsel for the Liberty Institute, said on "America's Newsroom" that Kennedy's right to religious expression is being violated.

"Given everything that is happening in our nation right now, especially in our public schools, it's just shocking that a school district would want to try to criminalize what Coach Kennedy is doing, which is really just trying to be thankful for player safety on the field, good sportsmanship, all that good stuff," Berry said.

The 20-year Marine veteran said he has never required anyone to do the prayer, but when players would ask to join he'd tell them it's a free country and they could do as they pleased.

"Their beliefs are something that's personal," Kennedy said.

"I'm thanking God for what they just did out on the field. I thought that it was a right of every American to give thanks, so that's what I'm doing."

He said that many of his players have continued the tradition of praying at the 50-yard line with members of the other team.

"I have kids who say, 'Coach, I would like to pray with you. Can we go hide somewhere and pray?'" Kennedy said. "That's just sad."

Watch the interview above.


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