Alabama School District’s Website Features Coaches Praying with Athletes September 5, 2015

Alabama School District’s Website Features Coaches Praying with Athletes

I don’t think I’ll ever understand why some school districts advertise how they’re breaking the law… because at this point they *have* to know they can’t push Christianity onto students, right?

For example, the Tallassee City Schools in Alabama should probably know better than to feature coaches praying with football players on the front page of the District’s website:

That wasn’t the only flaunting of illegal religious activity.

A local newspaper, the Tallassee Times, even wrote about a minister who was invited to pray with the District’s high school football team before (and during!) games:

Breakfast is called “the most important meal of the day.” It very likely applies for Tallassee football players.

“Coach (Mike) Battles asked if churches can feed the team on Friday mornings,” team chaplain and First United Methodist Church pastor Dric Williford said. “We give them a word and encourage them before the game.”

Williford is in his second season as chaplain. FUMC and other churches will provide the meals and meeting place for fellowship this season.

“I still do the Wednesday devotionals right after practice,” said Williford, who played some football in his day for the Slocomb Red Tops. “Playing ball, you always like that encouragement from the minister, to be the best that you could be. It’s a team sport, and you watch out for each other.”

Williford makes all the Friday games, even road games.

“I walk up and down the sidelines,” he said. “In the devotionals, I try to help them be better men and know God.”

Freedom From Religion Foundation attorney Sam Grover had everything he needed to warn the District on Friday to put a stop to this faith-based nonsense:

Staff praying with students, athletic team chaplains, and school-sponsored religious events at churches are all unconstitutional in a public school setting. The District must take immediate steps to remedy these flagrant constitutional violations.

Give Coach Battles’ openness in discussing these illegal practices with local media, it is apparent that he is either unaware of his constitutional obligations, or has chosen to ignore them. The District must inform Coach Battles that he must remain neutral toward religion and provide oversight to ensure that he respects his students’ freedom of conscience in the future. If he is unable or unwilling to do so, he must be removed from the football program.

Give it a day or two and I promise you they’ll raise the Persecution Flag in Alabama. The problem is that these coaches and school officials assume proselytizing is good for students. They’re oblivious to the idea that some of them might not be Christian or want to join in the prayers. Doing so could alienate them from their teammates and make them look bad in front of their coaches. That’s why we shouldn’t be putting students in that position in the first place.

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