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2022 Charlotte Dinner with Coach Joseph Kennedy Part 1 of 2

Family Policy Matters / NC Family Policy
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October 31, 2022 11:48 am

2022 Charlotte Dinner with Coach Joseph Kennedy Part 1 of 2

Family Policy Matters / NC Family Policy

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October 31, 2022 11:48 am

NC Family’s 2022 Dinner in Charlotte, NC on October 13th, 2022 featured Coach Joseph Kennedy, a football coach turned First Amendment champion. Here is part one of his address. 

Family Policy Matters
NC Family Policy
Family Policy Matters
NC Family Policy
Family Policy Matters
NC Family Policy

Welcome to Family Policy Matters, an engaging and informative weekly radio show and podcast produced by the North Carolina Family Policy Council. Hi, this is John Rustin, president of NC Family, and we're grateful to have you with us for this week's program. It's our prayer that you will be informed, encouraged, and inspired by what you hear on Family Policy Matters, and that you will feel better equipped to be a voice of persuasion for family values in your community, state, and nation. Today we bring you an excerpt from NC Family's 2022 Charlotte Dinner, which was held on October 13th and featured coach Joseph Kennedy.

We hope you enjoy part one of this two-part program. On June 27th, the Supreme Court issued another opinion on another incredibly important case, which you probably didn't hear about because Dobbs was just sucking up all the oxygen and the media's attention. Well, this particular case centered around a Marine veteran who served as an assistant coach for the Bremerton High School varsity football team in Washington State. Before he even coached his first game, Coach Joseph Kennedy made a commitment to God that he would give thanks at the conclusion of each game for what the players had accomplished and for the opportunity he had to be involved in their lives through football. Well, after several years with no incident, school officials at Bremerton High School suddenly disapproved of Coach Kennedy's prayer practice.

And they not only suspended him, but later fired him, claiming his private prayer at midfield following football games was unconstitutional. Well, as any good Marine would do in the face of an unwarranted attack, Coach Kennedy stood his ground and challenged the school district, arguing that banning coaches from quietly praying just because they could be seen by the public is wrong and in fact violates the free speech and free exercise clauses of the U.S. Constitution. Well, seven years later, after that action was filed and following a multitude of defeats in lower courts, Coach Kennedy finally had his day before our nation's highest court. And this summer on June 27th, the United States Supreme Court vindicated Coach Joe Kennedy when it issued its opinion in the case of Kennedy versus Bremerton School District.

Tonight we are privileged to hear about this incredible warrior and about his incredible journey from the man himself. Please help me welcome Coach Joe Kennedy. I'm Coach Joe Kennedy. I was one of those bad kids, you know those kind of kids that nobody wants their kids to hang out with. That was me.

I was terrible. My parents couldn't have kids, but like a good Catholic family, they wanted children. So they adopted a couple of kids and then through the miracle of science or through the miracle of God, whatever you want to call it, they started spitting out kids like left and right. And I think they had something like seven kids and they didn't really need us anymore. So I kind of was rebellious and I took the wrong path. Now you go, oh my gosh, why would your parents ever turn your back on a kid?

You should have seen me how bad I was. Well, during this time when I was such a terrible kid, I ran across this young girl. We were both nine years old. My brother said, hey, there's this beautiful girl that lives down the road. She just moved in. And I was like, well, let's go check her out. I walked down there and I walked up to the front step and there's this girl sitting there. And I walked up to her and I said, hey, and she looked up and you know those cheesy movies, the word that everything goes into slow motion. She looks up, brushes the hair out of her eyes and looks up at me with these big brown eyes. And I was like, oh, and I'm just standing there with my mouth open wide, not knowing what to say.

And she goes, can I help you? And I said, yeah, I want to marry you. So I proposed on our first day.

She said, you're creepy and went in the house. So me and my brother, we got in a fight over who was going to marry her. And I can honestly say I beat the tar out of them then.

And then 31 years later, I married her. So yeah, I was always a fighter. I grew up fighting and I didn't know why I was just an angry, angry kid. I went through group homes and foster homes, a boy's home in Eastern Washington. And I was trying to find my place in the world. I didn't really know anything about God. And when I went to this boy's home, they were kind of a paramilitary, but a Christian place. It's a place you go right before you go to juvie.

So there I am trying to figure out who I am, how do I fit in the world? And there were so many counselors there that were just awesome people that just sowed seeds and just light in the Bible into me every chance that they got. The minimum you could stay there is six months.

And I was there for two years because I'm a slow learner at those kind of things. But I decided I'll give this God thing a try. And that's what I did. And it fit well. It was like a suit. I put on God's suit and I'm surrounded by Christians and I said, wow, this is really cool. I look good.

It's easy when you're surrounded by fellow Christians to be a Christian. Well, all things don't last forever. And I ended up moving back home and I went right back into what I was doing. And I needed to find some kind of outlet. Everybody in my life told me that I would never amount to anything. I didn't contribute to society. I was just one of those things that should be put away because I'm not serving any purpose.

And that hit me hard. I wanted to see what I was really made of. I wanted to prove everybody wrong, that I wasn't just a loser. So I joined the Marine Corps and hey, it's a perfect fit for me, guy who likes to fight, fight nonstop. I learned simple little things like discipline.

I don't know how many people know about the Marine Corps, but they instill a little bit of discipline on the first day you're there. And I ended up staying. I thought I was going to be there for just one enlistment and turn into two. And then I'm halfway there and I decided I'm going to make a life of it.

Right when I was about to get out of the Marine Corps, I took all my Marines and I was up in Washington doing rifle range. And my son, who's 12, he came over and we went out to lunch and I said, hey, what are you doing this weekend? You know, and he said, well, I'm actually going to go to Denise's house to celebrate her birthday. And I was like, really? Do you got her number?

He goes, I think so. And he gave it to me. So I called her up and lo and behold, she's just off the run. And I called her and I was all nervous. And I said, hey, I'm down in Tacoma.

Is there any way that we can meet up? And she said, yeah, well, I work 700 hours a week, but you could come by in the evening. And so I did. And soon as I saw her, it was just like that first day.

Nothing changed at all. And I was just like, oh my God, I love this girl. So we ended up getting together and we found out, hey, God is doing great things in her life. She grew up in a church. She knew God and she had a great relationship with them. And here's his heathen who wants to live with her.

Well, God works in mysterious ways and he has a sense of humor. So he paired us up and then we got married and it was instant family. We have four and a half kids. We picked up a stray along the way and we've been just living together and trying to make the best of it.

Well, she went through a lot of things when she was a kid, you know, a lot of abuse and her ex-husband was a terrible man. I ended up, you know, just trying to make everything work and it wasn't working. Things were way out of balance and I had no way to reach her. So the great thing was she invited me to church every Sunday.

I had every excuse. I did anything you possibly could to get out of going to church until the one day when our son said, well, if he doesn't have to go, do I have to go? So I said, okay, I'm going to go.

I went and I sat defiant for six months or so. Well, as things went on, our marriage kind of got really rocky and I didn't know how to reach out to her. And finally I was up to my limit and I was in church and they started playing one of those great church songs and I don't know what happened.

Something hit me all of a sudden. It was like my chest broke open and I went running up to the altar and I broke down and I just started sobbing my eyes out and just saying, God, if you help me with our relationship, I will give you everything I have for the rest of my days. And she saw that I actually broke down and I was so serious about this relationship and being married that she came up. We had a good cry and everything was perfect until I got called to coach football. I don't know anything about football.

X's and O's is not my thing. And it was funny when I went to the interview, they were like, why are we even looking at you? And I said, well, I checked out your team and it's obvious you guys need discipline, you need leadership, need team building, you need all the intangible things, all the things that those X's and O's guys are just missing out on. I could take all of that and we took a lot of kids in over the years. And I don't know if anybody knows about coaching.

You make about seven cents an hour, which isn't really worth it. But taking these kids into your home, giving them a place that is safe to actually sleep and getting them to perform at their highest on a Friday night. That was the honor of my life. On that Friday, they asked me if I would coach.

I said, well, give me the weekend, you know, to think about it. I should probably talk to God and my family about this. And in the middle of the night, I was flipping through the channels and there's absolutely nothing good on seven hundred and ninety three channels. And then this movie came on facing the Giants. And here I am talking to God all weekend going, am I supposed to do this? This movie comes on and for the second time I fell to my knees. This one really hit me hard. But here was God coming through the TV.

I mean, reaching right through those Kendrick brothers and just socks me in the gut. And I'm on the ground just bawling my eyes out. And I said, God, just like in the movie, I will give you the glory after every game. I hear you calling my name. A lot of people go through their life and have absolutely no idea what their calling is.

This is the first time I actually knew what my calling was. And I said, I'm in. I'll give you the glory after every game, win or lose right there in the battlefield. And that's what I did. So I'm sitting there and I said, I was going to do this. And I walk across the field, shake hands. And then I would go and I would just take a knee.

Something so simple as a 15 second prayer. I might as well been tying my shoe. Nobody knew what I was doing. And I did this for eight years. We were in the middle of the eighth football season when this happened. And when all came to you, you think that somebody really was upset, but it actually came from a compliment. Somebody that saw what we did on the football field and called the principal and said, Hey, I just want to tell you that your football program is doing is really awesome.

So of course, with any kind of compliment, you want to do an investigation, right? That makes sense. Their lawyers got involved and we thought we could all work it out.

We really did. And these people have been my friends for almost a decade. First time they said, Hey, you could pray even when you're on duty, as long as it doesn't affect your job duties. No problem there. Check. Second letter they gave me, they said, you just can't pray with the kids. And I was like, well, that's unfortunate, but hey, your school, your rules, no problem.

Check in the box. Third one, they gave me another letter and they said, you just can't pray at all where people could see you. And that's where I just drew the line. I said, I'm not giving up my faith. I'm not giving in.

Are you kidding me? In America, especially at a public school, they're like the taxpayer. And I'm like, I'm the taxpayer. My kid, they all go to the school and to make it all better. Guess who the HR director of the school district was my wonderful wife. There's been many days and nights that we had intense fellowship and it was intense. It really was. It was the hardest thing that I've ever had to go through. So this wasn't just something of some stubborn guy.

And that's what I kept fighting with. Is this me? Is this my pride?

What is this? And I really needed God to figure this out because it was putting a huge strain on our marriage and the coolest thing happened. Here I am getting ready to sue my wife and the rest of the people in the Bremerton school district. And she's pretty upset. And I have no way of reaching out to her and trying to tell her, well, God's calling me to do this. You know, you hear about stories. Well, God calls people to do all kinds of weird stuff. I'm that guy.

He's calling me to do this. And we just couldn't get past that. I was at my limit. I was like, I am hurting the one I love more than anything. And it got to the point where I was like, I'm just leaving. And I was on my way out the door and she's bawling her eyes out on the bed and my phone goes off. And I was like, who in the heck is doing, I don't know that number.

It was the Kendrick brothers. They made a video and said, well, first I stopped and I fell and I broke the banister going down our stairs and my wife comes running out and she was like, are you okay? And I hand her my phone. And so she looks at it and she hits play and we sat there and just bawled our eyes out and we knew it was going to be okay.

God shows up exactly, exactly when we needed him to not when we wanted him to, but when we needed him to. So this lawsuit was not something I took lightly. I wanted nothing more to not send my wife because that's bad marital vice one on one. Don't sue your spouse.

The other thing is I just wanted to coach high school football. I didn't want his lawsuit, are you kidding me, but God made that fighter when I was a kid. God was putting those puzzle pieces together and I never even knew it until that moment when I could take a step back and look and it was like, wow, that guy knows what he's doing.

I mean, God's pretty cool. He's got a sense of humor to sue your wife, but hey, you know, I mean, I'm like God, so I'm not going to argue with him too much. So we went through the lawsuit. We lost at the district court, the appeals court, the Supreme court, they kicked it back, went to the district court, went to the appeals court.

They kicked it around twice and then back to the Supreme court. So I'm 0 and 7 at this point. That's not a winning record. That's terrible.

You know, you'd fire a coach for that. Fire me for that record, not for praying and being thankful. So we go to the Supreme court and let me tell you, it is an answered prayer by every single one of you. All of our prayers were answered. This was not my victory in my fight. This was ours. Do you know how cool that is? God answers prayers.

He's very much alive. I mean, if he could take this time out of his day to win something for some schmuck from Washington, imagine what we're going to do as a collective whole. We won this fight. This wasn't my fight.

This was our fight and we won. Thank you. You've been listening to Family Policy Matters. This has been part one of a two part show featuring coach Joseph Kennedy, who is the keynote speaker at NC family's 2022 Charlotte dinner on October 13th. Be sure to tune in next week to hear part two of coach Kennedy's keynote address. For more information about NC family, visit our website at NC That's NC Thanks again for listening and may God bless you and your family.
Whisper: small.en / 2022-11-08 23:22:41 / 2022-11-08 23:26:54 / 4

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