The Coach Who Would Be Pastor

Joe Kennedy isn’t an unusual person, especially for an American. He’s an assistant coach for a Seattle high school team. He’s been in this position since 2008, which means that he’s a respected member of the community.

Something he does privately has garnered national attention. Should we be given extra scrutiny for what we do in private even if we are a public employee? Could you imagine someone digging into my private Cheetos consumption while I watch Lifetime movies? The horror.

The good news is a human rights organization is defending Coach Kennedy in his time of need as he defiantly continues to do private things on his own time, which is every American’s right.

I’m being such a tease. After a football game is over, and as a coach, we all know that the job only lasts while the clock is running, Coach Kennedy walks to the 50-yard-line, and “privately” offers a Christian prayer. He is the embodiment of “alone in a crowd” in this moment as there are usually dozens of other people on the field with him at the time.

It’s a dicey time for the term religious liberty. While it’s true that under Title VII of the Civil Rights act that a person can’t be denied their request for religious accommodation, it’s also true that an individual representing the government, as a coach for a high school team is, can’t endorse any particular religion.

Which side wins in a situation like this? I’d vote for the kids. I bet the majority of the players on the team agree with the coach, because most Americans are Christians and they want to continue playing football for Bremerton High School. A football coach at a high school is a pretty influential guy. The problem is not all of the players are of the same religious persuasion as the coach, so him professing that religion publicly is putting undue pressure on any person who isn’t of that persuasion.

The cries of persecution aren’t unusual these days. The fact remains that if you’re in the majority, it’s a lot tougher to be persecuted, and when you complain of such you make the actual persecution that happens to minorities every day a trivial affair.

There’s a line in a book that goes like so. I’m not sure how people are going to take my use of this line but it’s appropriate given the situation. It goes “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.”

There’s another good quote that could apply to this situation: “With great power comes great responsibility.”

I used a story from News Channel 3 WREG Memphis for some of this story’s details. The Liberty Institute is the organization defending the coach.

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