Back in June the U.S. Supreme Court said Joseph Kennedy, an assistant football coach at Bremerton High School in the state of Washington, could pray with his team on the field. Kennedy was on paid leave until, I presume, the court’s decision was final. Part of the court’s decision required Bremerton School District to reinstate him.
But where is Kennedy? The school district is trying to reinstate him, but he has gone radio silent. Well, it turns out Coach Kennedy is on the right wing lecture circuit.
Here is Danny Westneat at The Seattle Times:
When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that Bremerton assistant football coach Joseph Kennedy had the right to pray on the field, it wasn’t widely understood then that the court had also ordered the school district to give him his job back.
The day of the ruling, Fox News host Sean Hannity expressed doubts the district would follow through. But one of Kennedy’s lawyers clarified that they had no choice: “We’re ready to have that fight. If they want to defy the Supreme Court, I think they’re gonna realize they made a serious mistake.”
Kennedy was sunnier about it all.
“As soon as the school district says ‘Hey, come back,’ I am there, first flight,” he said.
So the school district has been flummoxed about what’s happened since. They complied by offering to reinstate him, they say, and now the football season is in full swing. But Kennedy is nowhere near the sidelines.
“He’s had the paperwork for his reinstatement since August 8th, and we haven’t gotten so much as a phone call,” says Karen Bevers, spokesperson for Bremerton schools.
Instead, as the Bremerton Knights were prepping for the season in August, Kennedy was up in Alaska, meeting with former Vice President Mike Pence and evangelist Franklin Graham. On the eve of the first game, which the Knights won, Kennedy was in Milwaukee being presented with an engraved .22-caliber rifle at an American Legion convention.
The weekend of the second game, which the Knights also won, Kennedy appeared with former President Donald Trump at the Trump National Golf Club in New Jersey. He saw Trump get a religious award from a group called the American Cornerstone Institute.
Coming up this month, Kennedy’s scheduled to give a talk as part of a lectureship series at a Christian university in Arkansas.
“Place a PR/Publicity Request,” invites his personal website, where he’s known as Coach Joe.
It’s an increasingly surreal situation for the Bremerton schools. They were ordered to “reinstate Coach Kennedy to a football coaching position,” according to court documents. But the now-famous coach is out on the conservative celebrity circuit, continuing to tell a story about “the prayer that got me fired” — even though Bremerton never actually fired him.
In 2015, he was put on paid leave near the end of the season after holding a series of prayer sessions on the field with students and state legislators. He still got paid for his full assistant coach contract, about $5,000. High school assistants often work on yearly deals, and Kennedy, at odds with the head coach and aggrieved by what had happened, never reapplied to work the 2016 season.
“He was not terminated,” Bevers said. The head coach at the time had moved on, as did most of the coaching staff.
Read the rest here.
I lived in Bremerton and followed this from the beginning. My feelings were that he was being used as a case to take to SCOTUS. Now I see he’s most interested in his “celebrity Christian “ status.
I am so, so done with ‘christian’ grandstanding… there are some Christians who are famous, for doing/saying righteousness (e.g. Tim Keller) But all the rest… especially the ones who seem to have one or more lies or half-truths or blatant hypocrisies attached to them…. so sick of it – they’re working very very hard to turn more and more people secular and against the real Jesus. Nobody is fooled by this behavior.
John Fea says
One can make a lot of money and gain a lot of fan in the Trumpian/right-wing/Christian Right media infrastructure. You never have to leave the bubble.
John Fea says
Prayer at midfield was apparently a springboard to bigger and better things.