Ross: The case of kneeling former Bremerton coach interrogates the humility of prayer

Apr 26, 2022, 7:07 AM
Former Bremerton High School assistant football coach Joe Kennedy takes a knee in front of the U.S....
Former Bremerton High School assistant football coach Joe Kennedy takes a knee in front of the U.S. Supreme Court (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

In the Supreme Court Monday, the justices were trying to figure out when the constitutional right to practice religion collides with the constitutional right not to have religion forced on you.

It was the case of former Bremerton football coach Joe Kennedy, who would pray alone, quietly, at the 50-yard line after games, to give thanks. That was no big deal until some of his players started joining him. Then more players, and then players from the opposing teams:

“Our kids started inviting the other teams … which was really amazing,” Kennedy said.

There are videos of this – opposing teams praying together after a hard-fought game. It is actually very inspiring to watch.

In Monday’s argument, the coach’s attorney Paul Clement said his client’s public display of faith was no different from athletes who salute God, on live TV, right in the middle of a game.

Yet, some parents felt their kids were being pressured to pray, so after seven years of litigation, the court will have to decide where to draw the line on public displays of faith. That means we will likely end up with yet another complicated government rule on religion.

The problem here is that the Court, under the Constitution, is not allowed to ask the most important question, which is what does God think? Too bad.

It turns out that there’s good news on that – and I use that phrase on purpose – because the Gospel itself tells us what God thinks:

“And when you pray…reward you openly,” Matthew 6:6, as said by Johnny Cash, reads. I wanted to be sure it was accurate.

So, there is Jesus himself – saying that God does not want our virtue signaling. God wants humility. That means the real question here – for a Christian, anyway – is whether choosing to pray when you have made yourself the center of attention – is a Christian act.

I could argue that, far from punishing the coach for praying, the school district was trying to get him to pray in the manner actually prescribed by Jesus!

But I would be the first to say that is far beyond the scope of the High Court, as it should be. Since, for Christians anyway, it’s already been settled by a much higher authority.

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Ross: The case of kneeling former Bremerton coach interrogates the humility of prayer