Hard to understand

Published 4:25 pm Friday, August 10, 2018

am so thankful for the opportunity to write a weekly column for this paper. Anyone who reads my column, and there are plenty of you who tell me you do, knows that I like to write about “everyday” things.

I might see something that strikes me as funny and I like to share that with you. Or, another subject that is popular is to write about the way life used to be, especially growing up on a farm during decades when life in these United States was much different than today.

On this day, though, I want to write about a more serious subject and it’s one of those subjects that I just don’t understand. I didn’t know about it until I read a short column by former FSU football coach Bobby Bowden. The headline of the Bowden column was “I’m Proud to Take a Knee with Coach Kennedy.”

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With professional football players taking knees as the National Anthem is being played, at first I thought Coach Bowden was supporting those players and coaches in professional football who did not want to stand for The Star Spangled Banner.

I should have known better. Coach Bowden has been known as a God-fearing Christian for a long, long time and also is known as a patriotic American. I was surprised that he was supporting that sort of kneeling and was wrong to “go there.” As I said, I should have known better.

Coach Bowden was being supportive of a high school football coach by the name of Joe Kennedy. He had coached a long time in Bremerton, Washington, but had been suspended in 2015 for something having to do with his faith.

Coach Kennedy had been a U.S. Marine for twenty years before he became a football coach. He had promised God that if he was able to get a job coaching young boys in football that he would “always take a moment at the end of each game to kneel in silent prayer at midfield in gratitude for the effort and safety of his players and their opponents.” (Daily Caller website)

Kennedy was faithful to this promise for many years until 2015 when he was given the choice to either stop praying or stop coaching. What a choice! Kennedy chose to keep praying and he lost a job that he loved and brought him great pleasure. Plus, his innocent efforts to honor God was quite a witness to the young, impressionable kids he coached and their parents.

In 2016 his contract to teach at the Bremerton school was not renewed. He fought the firing by taking the school district to court. He claimed his First Amendment right to freedom of religion.

A Washington state District Court upheld his firing so he took it a step higher and appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Last year, that court upheld the District Court ruling and Coach Kennedy is finding the ways and means to take it all the way to the Supreme Court of the nation.

It’s not automatic that the Supreme Court will hear his case but Bobby Bowden joined the appeal as a “friend of the court,” along with many others. I appreciate Coach Bowden’s willingness to stand for, not just a fellow coach, but to stand against the assault on our Christian faith.

I don’t know everything about Coach Kennedy, but he seems to be someone who simply wanted to pray and thank God for the effort and safety of the kids who played the game. In this land of the free and home of the brave, it’s hard for me to understand what is so wrong with that!