Last week, The Anniston Star newspaper ran a profile of Anniston High School football coach Eddie Bullock. It included this passage showing how he brought the team together after a tough loss:
Anniston players missed assignments, Bullock told his quiet and attentive team, but that happens. There will come a day when the good things they did translate on the scoreboard.
Then Bullock told his team to rise up and put a hand on a teammate. He asked for a prayer leader, and a player nicknamed “Pee Wee” stepped up.
After “Pee Wee’s” prayer, a room full of young men said the Lord’s Prayer.
This young Anniston team might struggle to get 11 players all hitting their assignments between a given center’s snap and referee’s whistle, but the Bulldogs sure can nail the Lord’s Prayer. The voices delivered the words with a cadence that would have made the marching band proud.
As we know by now, while student-led prayers are fine, public school coaches are not allowed to lead, promote, or participate in those prayers.
It led the Freedom From Religion Foundation to send a letter to the school district warning them against this action:
Anniston City Schools must take action to ensure that coaches do not lead, organize, invite, encourage, or participate in prayers with their teams. Coaches must be informed of their legal obligations and school administrators should be directed to monitor school events to ensure compliance. We ask that you inform us promptly in writing of the steps you are taking to address this matter.
Incidentally, this area is home to another district that came under criticism recently after a principal wrote on the school’s Facebook page that they would no longer hold public prayers at football games because the law says they can’t.
At this rate, maybe FFRF should just send a form letter to every district in the state reminding them of the law. It’d save them a lot of time.
(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Brian for the link)