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Football Coach Joe Kennedy: ‘Don’t Be Afraid To Show Kids What It’s Like To Be Christ-Like’

Screenshot from TAKEAWAYS from Kirk Cameron on TBN YouTube Channel

Football Coach Joe Kennedy: ‘Don’t Be Afraid To Show Kids What It’s Like To Be Christ-Like’

By Movieguide® Staff

After winning a first amendment court case, Joe Kennedy, a former public high school football coach in Washington state who lost his job after leading his team in prayer, will be reinstated.

The football coach recently appeared on Kirk Cameron’s TAKEAWAYS show, along with his lawyer, who helped him when the case.

“I would say probably waiting was the hardest thing,” Kennedy said after Cameron asked him what some of the challenges were in taking the case to the Supreme Court.

“Never in a million years did I expect it to take seven years to do this,” Kennedy added.

Kennedy said that God used the time away from his coaching job to learn to depend more on Him.

“I would say I’m really cemented in my faith now,” he said. “I really had to learn how to rely on God, not just for my relationship and my jobs and getting me through this but getting me through my marriage and you know staying sane while I watch my team grow and be there without me and even graduate.”

“The great thing is I’m still able to be part of their lives but God has shown up when I absolutely needed him to,” he continued.

Kennedy also encouraged others to stand for their beliefs and not back down from expressing their faith.

“There’s no way I could have done this without everybody out there,” Kennedy said. “I got calls from all over the United States, even across the world in support of me and I felt like I wasn’t fighting this fight alone.”

“I’m not telling them to go out there and be a spotlight and try to preach to everybody under the sun, but you don’t have to hide being a Christian and you can thank God anytime, anywhere,” he added. “Don’t be afraid be that role model for these kids and show them what it’s like to be Christ-like.”

Movieguide® previously reported:

Kennedy recounts God speaking to him as a new Christian through the movie FACING THE GIANTS, a movie about a high school football coach who uses faith to inspire his team and face his personal struggles.

“I tell you, you don’t get answers from God like that very often. But man, He came down, smacked me in the gut.” Kennedy continues, “I was on my knees, bawling my eyes out and I’m like, ‘I’m in. I will give You the glory after every game, win or lose right there on the battlefield.’”

The coach initially would pray by himself on the football field after the games, and the numbers continued to grow as members of the team asked him if they could join him. Soon team members from the opposing team would be invited, as well as people from the crowd and even the mayor.

“It kind of evolved over the years and you know, this wasn’t a short process. This was eight years of in the making of that happening until the school district obviously went sideways,” Kennedy said.

Things “went sideways” in 2015 when the school district told him that he couldn’t pray with the kids, in fear that they might feel pressured to participate, although completely voluntary according to Kennedy. He eventually went back to praying on the field by himself, but he was told he was not allowed to pray publicly at all on the football field. He refused and was put on administrative leave, leading to fight their decision in court.

Despite the pressure to give into the school district’s demands, even pressure from those close to him out of concern for his job, Kennedy felt that the stakes for freedom of speech were too high.

“I fought to defend the Constitution of the United States, and that actually means something to me,” recalling his time serving as a Marine. “I’ve seen the way the rest of the world is and America is so awesome. And if we are losing our God-given rights here in America, man, there’s no hope. So I was like, hey, even though I’m not on active duty anymore, guess what? I can still fight for our Constitution and stand up for what’s right.”