Wednesday, September 21, 2016
Judge: Bremerton High Can Discriminate Against Praying Coach
A US District Court Judge has ruled that the Bremerton School District in Washington State is not required to give Coach Joe Kennedy his job back.
Kennedy was fired for taking a knee and saying a quiet, private prayer following each football game.
The message? You can take a knee in protest of God or Country, but not to say a prayer.
Joe Kennedy, a deeply committed Christian and former high school football coach at Bremerton High School, had a post game tradition of walking to the 50 yard line following each game and offering a quiet, private prayer.
Over time, some of the players, on their own initiative, joined him for the short prayer.
During the past couple of years, boys from the opposing team have also joined in.
Although Coach Joe had been doing this for 8 years, last year it became an issue. The school district suspended him, giving him one more chance---ordering him to avoid kneeling, bowing his head or doing anything that could remotely be seen as religious.
He refused to stop praying---so they fired him.
Joe is loved in the community and there was an outpouring of support, including from a student who said he's an atheist but joined in the prayer because he felt the "community" of the moment.
The atheist who didn't like the prayer prevailed over the atheist who did.
The angry atheist also prevailed over the community that had deep respect for Coach Joe, and Coach Joe's religious rights.
First, Liberty Institute, one of the nation's most prominent religious liberty law firms, took the case and filed a law suit against the school district, demanding Joe Kennedy be rehired.
And that his violated religious freedom must be protected by the court.
US District Judge Ronald Leighton has now declined to issue a preliminary injunction that would have forced Bremerton School District to rehire Kennedy while his case is litigated.
Attorney Michael Berry with Liberty says certainly they are disappointed, but called it a "temporary set back."
Ironically, Monday of this week, I wrote about another Washington State High School football team who, along with their coach, also took a knee---with no consequences.
Last weekend, the entire Garfield High School football team took a knee, as they say, during the National Anthem in protest of our country. Their coach knelt with them.
Hiram Sasser with Liberty Institute said, "I bet if they were praying instead protesting, the school would have moved heaven and Earth to stop it."
However, they were applauded for their "courage."
Former Coach Joe Kennedy says his unwavering stand in regard to saying a prayer is based on a covenant he made with God after watching "Facing The Giants," a faith based football film.
The biblical account of Daniel and his 3 young Hebrew friends comes to my mind.
The question of their times, is the same question of our times:
To whom will you bow down?
The last chapter regarding Joe Kennedy's covenant with God is yet to be written.
We'll keep you posted.
Be Faithful. Be Vigilant. Be Strong. Be Prayerful. Be Blessed.