Joe Kennedy joined the Bremerton High School football program in Washington State as assistant coach. After seven years, Kennedy was fired because he prayed after the games.
On Monday, after a six-year legal dispute, Kennedy and his legal team were able to bring their case before the Supreme Court for their first round of oral arguments in a case that could have big implications for religious freedom moving forward.
Kennedy is not alone in having Christian coaches all over the nation.
Kennedy, upon his first day at work decided to pray after every game and thanked God. He had been inspired by the Christian sports drama film “Facing the Giants” to use his platform to develop young men, and thus began the tradition of praying after each game at the 50-yard line.
“I’d take a knee and thank God for what the guys just did and the opportunity to be a coach,” Kennedy said. I wanted to be able to meet my players and encourage these young men.
The initial version of the prayer he did was solo, and lasted only between 15 and 30 seconds. But eventually players asked to join him. When asked if they could, Kennedy simply responded by saying “it’s a free country,” and that they could “do what (they) want.”
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The tradition gained traction, and Kennedy started giving short motivational speeches to anyone that would attend, which included opposing players too.
However, the Bremerton School District took exception to Kennedy’s actions, and asked him to keep his prayers “physically separate from any student activity” in September of 2015. Kennedy was able to comply for approximately a month but asked for religious accommodations in October so that he could continue praying. Kennedy continued praying by himself after the school made no exception. Eventually, he was fired in November of 2015 for doing something the district claimed was “unconstitutional.”
It’s all nonsense.
Kennedy is fortunate that the Supreme Court boasts a conservative majority of 6-3, which may play in favor a final decision. But we shouldn’t even have gotten here in the first place.
Kennedy did not coerce people to join him, as was repeatedly stated during the trial. The event began as an opportunity for personal reflection. It became something people enjoyed. It was Christian-themed so the school made exception.
We see this in many other aspects of culture. However, any trace of Christian influence will be ruthlessly eliminated. The Supreme Court could side with Kennedy and we might see some positive changes.