‘I Admire His Character and His Faith … Godspeed, Coach!’
July 26, 2021
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — After a years-long legal battle to protect his right to pray on a high school football field, Coach Joe Kennedy of Bremerton, Washington, hopes to have his case heard by the Supreme Court this fall. The full U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit declined to rehear his case’s arguments, CBN News reported last week—and now, Kennedy and his legal team are confident the High Court “will right this wrong.”
“Banning coaches from praying just because they can be seen contradicts the Constitution,” said Jeff Mateer, First Liberty Institute’s chief legal officer and Kennedy’s representative. Hiram Sasser, First Liberty’s general counsel, added he is “very confident” the Supreme Court “will take this case and side with religious freedom.”
In 2015, Kennedy’s school district fired him after his silent post-game prayers on the 50-yard line spilled over to his players and to opposing teams. School officials thought his prayers might give the appearance of their approval and a pro-religion endorsement by the district. Kennedy, however, said his firing violated his free speech rights and asked the High Court to hear his case in 2019; yet the Supreme Court sent it back to the lower courts. Interestingly, in 2019, Judge Samuel Alito wrote of this case, “The Ninth Circuit’s understanding of the free speech rights of public school teachers is troubling and may justify review in the future.”
Judge Phil Ginn, president of Southern Evangelical Seminary (SES, www.ses.edu), commented on the case’s latest developments from a biblical perspective.
“I’ve never met Coach Joe Kennedy, but I admire his character and his faith,” said Judge Ginn. “The saga of his arduous journey through our legal system to protect his, and our, right to demonstrate our trust in the sovereignty of Almighty God, even [at] a high school football game, is reminiscent of the story of Daniel in the Bible. Daniel’s enemies tried to find something against him but were unable to do so ‘unless it had something to do with the law of his God.’ Coach Kennedy, not in defiance but in obedience, chose to pray to God—as should be the right of every man, woman, and child in this country. It is also the right of players, students, parents, and fans to join him if they choose to do so of their own free will and their own accord.”
Added Judge Ginn, “As the Founding Fathers noted, and as we at Southern Evangelical Seminary believe, this is a God-given right, not one bestowed by any governmental entity. By the same token, it is not one that can be taken away by any secular decree, even one emanating from a body as august as the U.S. Supreme Court. In Daniel’s case, after he was thrown into the den of lions and ultimately retrieved the next day, it was reported that ‘when he was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.’
“My prayer and hope for Coach Kennedy and all of America,” Judge Ginn went on, “is that if, and when, this case reaches the Supreme Court, its ruling will have the same effect for him as was the case when Daniel was brought up from the lions’ den. Incidentally, we sometimes forget that those who conspired against Daniel were ultimately thrown into the same lions’ den from which Daniel was rescued—and that ‘the lions overpowered them and crushed their bones.’ The God of Coach Kennedy, the same God we proclaim here at SES, can shut and open the mouth of lions. I’m not at all sure that even the Supreme Court has that far-reaching power.”
Judge Ginn shared this additional thought: “I call on Christians all over this great country to stand with Coach Kennedy and to earnestly pray that our Supreme Court will realize that what God has given to us here in America is not within the court’s power to take away. Godspeed, Coach!”
As this issue attracts the nation’s attention, SES will be hosting a key event, “Awaken: Thinking Well about Wokism, Social Justice, and Racial Reconciliation,” on Sat., Aug. 7, at 1 p.m. Registration for this significant SES event, which will be livestreamed, is open at this link. Earlier in 2021, SES released a new video revealing inconsistencies with today’s “woke” ideology—and noting the importance for Christians to proclaim and defend the true and the good.The SES video, titled “Are You Woke or Awake?,” has been well received on social media.
Judge Charles Philip Ginn has been SES President since April 1, 2021, having recently served as the seminary’s Chairman of the Board of Trustees. His appointment came on the heels of Dr. Richard Land’s retirement earlier this spring. Judge Ginn has been active with Southern Evangelical Seminary not only because of his admiration for his mentor, Dr. Norm Geisler—who personally recruited Judge Ginn for the SES doctoral program—but also because of his strong belief in the mission of SES to evangelize the culture through apologetics. He is the first graduate of SES to become seminary president.
After a distinguished career as a lawyer and a judge, Judge Ginn retired as Senior Resident Superior Court Judge for the 24th Judicial District in North Carolina. Judge Ginn holds a B.A. from Appalachian State University, a J.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a Doctor of Ministry from SES.
The mission of SES is to train men and women, based on the inerrant and infallible written Word of God, for the evangelization of the world and defense of the historic Christian faith. SES offers the 15-hour Certificate in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE).SES believes that one must minister to the present generation according to its needs—and to do so with truth and power. Students need training in the ethical, political and economic implications of the unchanging Faith “once delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). The PPE can also be used as a concentration within most master’s degrees (excluding Master of Arts in Religion).The combination of PPE training and classical seminary education can be a potent one in combating the new heresies and false doctrines rooted in a secularist, progressivist worldview.
To interview Judge Phil Ginn of Southern Evangelical Seminary, contact Hamilton Strategies, Media@HamiltonStrategies.com, Jeff Tolson, 610.584.1096, ext. 108, or Deborah Hamilton, ext. 102.