Coach Ordered to Stop Bowing Head in Prayer by School District

Georgia’s East Coweta High School football coach John Small has received an order from the Coweta County School District, telling he must stop praying with the team players.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation has claimed responsibility for “putting an end to” Small’s prayers with his team.

After seeing a video of Small bowing his head with players, Freedom From Religion Foundation members were furious, and sent a letter to Coweta School Superintendent Steve Barker. Enclosed with the letter was a picture of Small bowing his head alongside players.

“It is our understanding,” the letter reads, “that Cowetta High School football coach John Small has been praying with his team. Please see the enclosed photo, which is a screenshot from a video of Coach Small leading his team in prayer.”

The letter went on to assert that “it is illegal for public school athletic coaches to lead their teams in prayer.”

A Freedom From Religion press release brags that their actions stopped Small from praying with his team, a practice which they say “plagued” the school. They also assert that the coach cannot even participate in student-led prayer.

From the FFRF press release:

FFRF requested that the district take immediate action to end school-sponsored prayers plaguing the school district’s athletic programs.

The district promptly responded notifying FFRF in an Oct. 26 letter that Barker has met with the principals of all three high schools to inform them that neither school staff nor volunteer staff may lead or participate in religious activity before, during or after high school football games.

“We appreciate the district’s swift action to address the violation and its commitment to protecting the rights of conscience for all of its students,” says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor.

The FFRF acts as though the picture of Small bowing his head “caught” him in some terrible deed which needed to be punished. But Small didn’t force anyone to pray with him.

Nevertheless, Small agreed to comply, and agreed to no longer commit his “crime.” One must wonder whose rights Small was infringing on by praying.

The Telegraph reports:

FFRF is a Wisconsin-based non-profit that works to “protect the constitutional principle of separation between state and church, and to educate the public on matters relating to nontheism,” according to its website.

The organization wrote a letter to Coweta School Superintendent Steve Barker Oct. 25 stating the act was an “advancement and endorsement of religion” by the district since Small is an employee. The act of a coach leading or participating in prayer with players violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, which prevents the government from making any actions favoring one religion over another.

A coach leading prayer could also make players who are not religious or of another religion feel ostracized.

“They may realize the coach likes the prayer and he wants the prayer to take place, so I’m going to single myself out if I choose not to participate,” FFRF member Chris Line told Fox 5.

The letter asked for the district to take immediate action to cease any public prayer led by a school district employee.

Barker asked for guidance from school board attorney Nathan Lee, who said in a memo district employees should play no role in endorsing religion. They should only provide a “supervisory or custodial role,” according to the Newnan Times-Herald.

“Representatives of the school cannot participate in any student-initiated or student-led prayer or other worship while acting in their official capacity,” Lee’s memo stated. “For instance, they cannot join hands, bow their heads, take a knee or commit another act that otherwise manifests approval with the students’ religious experience.”

Because players who might choose not to pray could feel left out, this Coach needed to stop acting in a manner that united and encouraged his team.

The FFRF wants prayer off the field at at time when the NFL turns a blind eye to players’ insulting the flag and the national anthem in order to exploit the publicity their controversy causes. Leftist logic at its finest.

Do we really need nonprofits like FFRF protecting students from prayer?

Let us know what you think, and sound off in the comments below.