Many times, we seek to stand when things are going smoothly. However, when things begin to get tough, we cave. We should remember that there are those who are watching, especially understanding that God is always watching. It is when we see that those around us watching, that we should be our strongest. This is what we see a coach in Washington do.
A Washington state high school football coach placed on paid administrative leave for saying postgame prayers with his players attended his former team’s game Thursday night and prayed with spectators.
As I earlier reported, Coach Joe Kennedy prayed after every game. This drew attention as people voluntarily joined him. The school district demanded that he stop the practice of praying with students. And despite his efforts, students joined him in his thanks to God. This caused the district to put him on administration leave.
Bremerton School District officials put Kennedy on leave late Wednesday because they did not want to be seen as endorsing religion. They claimed that they had warned Kennedy several times that he could not pray with players on the field after games.
“While the district appreciates Kennedy’s many positive contributions to the [Bremerton] football program, Kennedy’s conduct poses a genuine risk that the district will be liable for violating the federal and state constitutional rights of students or others,” read a statement posted on the district’s website.
Former players described the prayers as part of their postgame routine.
This is not an issue of people being forced to comply with a religion. Never was Kennedy forceful in his expectation to pray. In fact, there never was an invitation to pray. Kennedy prayed and others joined him because they wanted to pray with him.
“It was never like we were forced to pray with him,” former player Skyler Mullins told Q13Fox. He never said, ‘Let’s go pray’ or anything like that. We all just took it upon ourselves.”
Kennedy has prayed before and after games since 2008, but was only asked to stop recently after the practice came to the district’s attention.
But once the district heard about the prayer, others have made a big deal about it. They wished to force the coach and all that have conviction into silence.
Fox continued their report:
Bremerton’s game against Sequim was also attended by members of the Satanic Temple of Seattle, clad in black robes. The group, which had cheered the decision to put Kennedy on leave, said they went to support teachers and students who invited them. The group had also asked to perform an on-field invocation.
Bremerton High School’s senior class president, Abe Bartlett, said he was among those who invited the Satanists.
“The main reason I did it is to portray to the school district that I think we should either have a policy that we’re not going to have any religious affiliation or public religious practices, or they should say people are going to be allowed to practice their religion publicly whatever their beliefs,” the 17-year-old told the Associated Press Wednesday. “They need to either go black or white. I don’t think this controversial middle ground is what our school needs.”
However, the thing that Bartlett and the district fail to acknowledge is Kennedy’s personal decision to pray. This has nothing to do with the school or his position. He is praying on his own and because of his faith. This means that the school has no right to speak to this prayer or the students joining him.