A week after the head football coach at Naperville Central High School in Illinois was told to stop praying with his team, it appears the message has finally been taken seriously by everyone involved.
Last we heard, Superintendent Dan Bridges promised that Coach Mike Stine wouldn’t lead prayers with his team but said nothing about his participation in them. That didn’t satisfy the Freedom From Religion Foundation, which had already sent a warning letter to the District, so FFRF sent a follow-up.
That may have done the trick. Bridges and Stine have finally promised to comply fully with the First Amendment:
In the statement Stine said that while the pregame tradition of gathering as a team will continue, the moment will not involve prayer or religion.
“There won’t be any coach led prayer during this time or at any time,” Stine said.
“I understand that a coach’s participation in a prayer or any religious activity with the players cannot happen,” he said. “Through this experience, I better understand the separation that must exist between church or religion and the public schools. Myself and the football program will conduct this tradition in a way that will abide by that understanding.”
I don’t know if that’s Stine speaking for himself or a lawyer wrote that, but either way, it’s the right response to the situation. Good for him for putting the students first instead of waging a losing battle to defend public school proselytizing.
Remember: The students are still welcome to pray if they want to. But the coaches paid by the District will have to limit their interaction with the students to, you know, coaching them.