There’s nothing wrong with a Christian club at a public high school listening to a Christian speaker for motivation. But when a Christian speaker is invited to preach to an entire football team, the school has broken the law.
According to the Freedom From Religion Foundation, the Osceola School District in Florida has been inviting Christian preachers to speak to student athletes under the guise of “character coaches.” One of them, Eric Dimmick of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, even describes his career as a “full time missionar[y].”
They even brag about this illegal access online.
FFRF is now telling the district to put a stop to this immediately:
“No outside adults should be provided carte blanche access to minors — a captive audience — in a public school,” FFRF Staff Attorney Chris Line writes to Osceola School District Superintendent Debra Pace. “This conduct is inappropriate and should raise many red flags. The district cannot allow its schools to be used as recruiting grounds for religious groups during school-sponsored events.”
Permitting church representatives regular, or even one-time, access during school hours to proselytize and recruit students for religious activities is a violation of the Establishment Clause, FFRF adds. Courts have granted injunctions against schools for their complacency in such situations. And it is especially important that coaches maintain arm’s length separation from the FCA and its events, since the group has declared its intention to get coaches to “play the role as pastors.”
“Representatives of the privileged majority religion cannot be provided a special opportunity to spread sectarian religious messages,” says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “This reveals the district’s cluelessness about how increasingly diverse the youth in our country are.”
In theory, this would be a simple fix: Just stop the preachers from preaching. Do exactly what you would do if Muslims or atheists or Satanists were speaking instead of Christians. It’s not complicated.
There will undoubtedly be resistance, but… it doesn’t matter because those people are wrong. The preachers have no business proselytizing to students. They can do it at church and the students are welcome to go there on their own.
(Featured image via Facebook)