I featured Coach Joe Kennedy in my book “Faith Under Fire: Dramatic Stories of Christian Courage.” His story is amazing. After every football game he coached, win or lose, he’d walk to the fifty yard line and say a prayer of thanks to God. He didn’t ask anyone to join. He didn’t make a big show of it, in fact, he’d been doing it for years before anyone even noticed.
Some of his players joined him and then lawyers got involved. The school board warned him that if he continued praying they’d fire him. Mind you, Joe Kennedy loved his job as a football coach. He didn’t want to lose it. But he had to follow his conscience so after the next game he marched out to the fifty yard line, closed his eyes, knelt, and prayed.
When he opened his eyes, players from both teams surrounded him and people from the stands had descended to kneel with him. Truly, a moment of grace. But he was fired.
Joe Kennedy is a fighter and he took his case all the way to the US Supreme Court. And won. And now the school, Bremerton High, has officially asked him to return to his old job.
An amazing story.
The Washington high school football coach at the center of a First Amendment case that went before the U.S. Supreme Court last year will return to the sidelines for the upcoming football season.
The Bremerton School District announced that Joe Kennedy, a former assistant football coach who prayed with his players and other students on the field, will be back in his old coaching role this year. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that Kennedy’s prayer fell under his First Amendment rights to free speech and free exercise of religion, weighing in on the age-old argument over prayer in public schools.
After the decision, Washington’s Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction said the ruling affirms that school employees can engage in individual prayer as long as there’s no expectation that others join and the prayer is not part of their official duties.
Hey, sometimes the good guys win. Let’s appreciate the W and say a prayer of thanks that one man knelt down in order to stand up. Also, pray for the strength to handle this kind of thing in your own life. It may not be as upfront and open as what he dealt with. It might not go to the US Supreme Court. But there are ways that our culture is telling us to hide our faith and we have to decide if it’s worth the fight to show it. It is.