Welcome to “Athlos” a weekly Wednesday blog which examines pillars of personal excellence and regularly brings together the worlds of spirituality and sport.
“I will speak of your statutes before kings and will not be put to shame”-Psalm 119: 46
Persecution and prosecution
Joseph Kennedy is not a household name when one thinks about famous sports personalities. Yet, this former coach of the Bremerton High School, Washington, USA may end up leaving a legacy that no on-field success could have ever produced.
Kennedy has been in a long-running legal battle which he initiated after he lost his job for openly practising his faith. He would often pray on the field after games, at times, with some of his students.
The legal issue was succinctly summarised as follows in an April 25, 2022 ESPN report by Michael A. Fletcher: “The question before the Supreme Court is whether Kennedy’s on-field prayers are protected by the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious liberty, or whether they violate the First Amendment by promoting his religion.”
This is a fascinating and delicate discussion in today’s pluralistic society. It causes us to distinguish between freedom to proclaim your faith, while also respecting the freewill choice of others whose worldview on religion and spirituality opposes such open expressions of belief in God.
One ironic feature of this legal wrangling is that sport and religion are two of the greatest unifying forces this world knows. Yet, having come together, as in this scenario, the effect has sharply divided public opinion.
Do you have a personal view on this? Should the coach pray only in private or in the absence of his students after games? If he wants his athletes to join him, should it be voluntary? Is this the type of persecution that Jesus predicted?
In Part 2 of this blog, I will seek to put other perspectives on the table. I am likely to raise more questions than I am able to provide answers. Yet, the discussion seems to have great value and relevance in modern society.
Praying and playing
Freedom and courage go hand in hand. For many in the world of sport, so do praying and playing.
If you were inspired by this blog, please consider sharing it with one other person today. To learn more about these and other related themes that promote the cultivation of an integrated inner self, read UNBEATABLE! which is available on Amazon in print and as an e-book.