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Joe Kennedy returns to football, plans National Night of Prayer

Coach Joe Kennedy returns to Bremerton High School to coach football, and plans a National Night of Prayer to mark his return.

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Joe Kennedy returns to football, plans National Night of Prayer

Joe Kennedy (no relation to the Kennedys of Hyannisport) is returning to football coaching for this academic year and season. To mark the occasion, he invites followers to join him in a National Night of Prayer.

Joe Kennedy returns

Coach Joe Kennedy, famous for losing his job with the Bremerton (Wash.) School District, won his job back last year. Kennedy v. Bremerton School District, 597 U.S. ____ (2022). Now, after a seven-year battle, he will return to his former job as head football coach at Bremerton High School. To celebrate, he asks coaches, players, parents, and fans nationwide to “take a knee” on the night of Friday, September 1. (Source: The Todd Starnes Show.)

Restoring Faith in America has further details on their “First Freedom Challenge.” They encourage those interested in taking part, to record short videos of themselves and share them on various social media. Presumably this includes X, because they specified three hashtags for sharers to user: #TakeAKneeWithCoach, #FirstFreedomChallenge, and #RestoringFaithInAmerica.

First Liberty, who represented Joe Kennedy throughout his legal process, has taken the lead in this “First Freedom Challenge.” This would be a public claiming of the Supreme Court victory, and a demonstration that people of faith will defend their rights when they must.

How the case played out

In 2015 Bremerton School District’s Superintendent heard of Coach Kennedy’s activities from an interested visitor. Almost screaming, “Establishment Clause! Establishment Clause!”, he wrote Kennedy a letter ordering him to stop. Instead Kennedy took this as his Acts 4:1-22 moment, and “took a knee” at “The Fifty” one night after everyone else had left.


He did it again, and other adults and/or players joined him. Furious, the school district put Kennedy on administrative leave. They then closed the field and called the Bremerton Police to guard it.

Court after court sided with the school district, saying the district was absolutely correct to concern itself with Establishment Clause violations. (As it happens, not one atheist or secularist ever complained.) The Supreme Court at first tried to give the Ninth Circuit Appeals Court a chance to do the right thing. They didn’t, so the Court had to act.

Writing for the Court, Justice Neil Gorsuch – a member of the Originalist Bloc – said:

Neither [teachers nor students] shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.


This Court has since made plain, too, that the Establishment Clause does not include anything like a “modified heckler’s veto, in which … religious activity can be proscribed” based on “‘perceptions’” or “‘discomfort.’”

And furthermore:


Learning how to tolerate speech or prayer of all kinds is “part of learning how to live in a pluralistic society,” a trait of character essential to “a tolerant citizenry.”


The only acceptable government role models for students are those who eschew any visible religious expression.

Boo-hoo-hoo, cried Justice Sonia Sotomayor, lamenting that:

This Court continues to dismantle the wall of separation between church and state that the Framers fought to build.

The throat-clearing sound you hear is, of course, that of John Adams:

Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.

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Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.

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