A couple of weeks ago, First Baptist Villa Rica (a church in Georgia) posted a video of a pastor showing up at Villa Rica High School right before football practice in order to conduct a mass baptism that included players and a coach.
The Freedom from Religion Foundation sent a letter to the Carroll County School System and the District said it would investigate the situation.
That investigation is now over and, wouldn’t you know it, the District admits they didn’t handle this properly. They also added that they didn’t know about the baptisms in advance:
[Assistant superintendent Terry] Jones’ statement said the school district “had no knowledge that this event was scheduled to happen at VRHS.”
“The principal’s understanding was that the event was a church sponsored activity that was to be conducted after school and he was not aware of student involvement,” the statement said. “From the investigation the school district has concluded that VRHS failed to follow district facility usages procedures for outside groups using school facilities.”
The school district said it is addressing “concerns regarding the timing of the event and the participation of school personnel” with the appropriate parties. Jones declined to say whether any disciplinary action was taken against school personnel.
How many adults involved in these baptisms do you really believe had no clue that something illegal was happening? Surely some of them were aware of the law and chose to ignore it. I’m just frustrated that the half-hearted mea culpa is all we’re going to get.
But it’s still an acknowledgment that FFRF was right to call the District out on its actions.
Annie Laurie Gaylor, the foundation’s co-founder and co-president, said Monday “I think that reason has prevailed.”
Since some Christians will inevitably cry “persecution,” let’s be clear: The main problems here were a coach (in that capacity) participating in a religious event with students and the baptisms taking place on school property (as an extension of football practice, anyway).
No one’s taking away anyone’s right to pray, or read the Bible, or get baptized. No one ever was. If the ritual took place at church on a Sunday, there wouldn’t be a problem.
(Image via 11alive video. Thanks to Brian for the link. Portions of this article were published earlier)