Hail Mary

Hail Mary

Corey WilsonWednesday,28 October 2015

I’m going to start by saying that I like Bremerton High School football coach Joe Kennedy; he seems like a well-intentioned, stand-up fellow.

I grew up playing hockey, and I had one particular coach who used to bring in an AC/DC CD and blast some Thunderstruck before the game to pump all us 13-year-olds up. Now, I hated AC/DC (still do, sue me), but I still enjoyed the pregame ritual. It brought the team together, and so I can relate to Bremerton team captain Ethan Hacker (an agnostic), who says he just enjoys the unity Kennedy’s post-game prayer brings to the team.

I started reading about this story with the same mindset I’ve always had through all of Todd Starnes’s trillions of articles about this same damn topic: I’m sure you mean well, but you still can’t do it.

However, as I read further I’m finding it incredibly difficult to stand against Kennedy (though I still do). Apparently he doesn’t even say “in God’s name” at the end of the prayer; he allows students to use any name they want. To me, it seems clear that he welcomes anyone and anyone’s beliefs onto the field. And that’s great. It’s a moment of acceptance of everyone’s beliefs, and I think that’s a great way to bring a community together.

I’m not entirely in favour of the post-game prayer because I can imagine it leading to awkward situations for students who would feel peer-pressured into participating. It’s tricky situation to say the least, but I just hope coach Kennedy doesn’t lose his job.

Unfortunately, it can’t end on that sentiment because Todd is ruining this whole thing for me—as usual.

He can’t just make it about Coach Joe and the school board; it has to be about Christians as a nation, and he has to paint them as the victim. And of course he does it poorly by clearly demonstrating how baseless (unfortunately for Kennedy) this entire situation is.

He quotes Kennedy: “’I was really shocked,’ Coach Joe told [Starnes]. ‘I went out of my way to accommodate them. All I wanted to do was pray — and now I can’t even pray at all.’”

Which isn’t true, as Starnes so cluelessly points out three paragraphs later: “In his most recent letter, [superintendent] Leveall said the school district would be glad to provide a place for Coach Joe to pray.”

So it’s not an issue with Kennedy’s faith. It’s completely an issue with him leading a public school in prayer (whether it’s voluntary or not). According to the district’s interpretation of the law, he can’t do that. And allowing him to continue may result in lawsuits against the school board. And unfortunately, his prayer isn’t as important as the money the District might lose to those lawsuits.

Leveall is simply telling him that while Kennedy’s an employee of the District, he can’t engage in “demonstrative religious activity.” Which is completely understandable because, as I’ve said in the last twelve articles I’ve written about this topic, it’s a public school.

“That means he’s not even allowed to bow his head behind the bleachers where the kids are smoking pot.”

Shut up, Todd.

At the end of the day this is like the Kim Davis case. The law is the law. If it says he can’t do it, he can’t do it. You’ve got to follow the rules, and you can’t blame the District for trying to do just that.

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Image Credit: SD Dirk on Flickr

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