Charisma News reported Friday that Joe Kennedy, an Assistant Football coach at a Bremerton, Washington high school, faced discrimination when although a Buddhist coach was permitted to chant to Buddha, Kennedy was suspended on October 28th for refusing to stop praying on the 50-yard line after football games. Now, he is fighting for his religious freedom.
Kennedy is a U.S. Veteran and a Marine. While he is revered as a great coach with exemplary reviews since his hire in 2008, he wrote in his complaint, “BSD violated my rights to free exercise of religion and free speech by prohibiting my private religious expression and taking adverse employment action against me on the basis of my religion, notwithstanding my request for a reasonable accommodation that would allow me to practice my sincerely held religious beliefs.” Kennedy stated that standing up for his faith was a matter of principle, that he was standing up for the Constitutional rights of all Americans. He said that we [America] are not living up to our talk about practicing tolerance and acceptance and diversity.
Grant Taylor, a Christian high-school football coach (Alex Kendrick) in the 2006 Indie film, Facing the Giants (2007), was not in trouble for prayer. Grant was taunted by an attack of the enemy against his faith and his family: repeated disappointments with infertility and his own impotence, the threat of losing his job, and the losing streak of the high school football team to which he genuinely tries to impart courage, faith, and character.
Grant and Kennedy have a winning game plan, though it may seem like a Hail Mary pass in the midst of a storm. Standing on faith during a test gets God’s attention. He is a present help in trouble. If there is no turbulence, you might not understand and feel His intervention. However, when the crisis is thick and change happens, you know that He is working for your good.
It is written that the faithful will not be ashamed. Sure, the enemy will go for a bout of embarrassment because he wants the David in you to cower before Goliath while he stands at the 50 with his rat pack making light of your faith and your God. Goliath expects the roaring laughter of his team to make you doubt your favor. But the race is not given to the ogre. It’s given to the one who endures [in faith] until the conclusion of the matter. David answered Goliath’s braggadocios taunts about the Philistine team, by affirming whose team he [David] was on – a team whose destiny it is to win – the team of the Lord of Hosts.
Grant had something his haters did not count on – he had a habit of prayer, and a praying wife. Prayer changes things. Countless prayers have already gone up from the 50 with Kennedy and his team. Those prayers are not lost fodder in this chaos. Prayers are a sweet savor and an odor of remembrance before the Creator who has no place of incapacity. When others have forgotten your labors of love for those you mentor and invest your heart into, God remembers the selfless giving of gifts that cannot be bought in a boutique. Keep the faith, coach.