Missouri high school told to end coach-led prayer ritual

November 12, 2019 / Athletic AdministrationCoaching
The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) is demanding that a Missouri high school end a prayer group that’s led by football coaches before and after games.

The Wisconsin-based non-profit group sent a letter to Cameron R-1 School District Superintendent Matt Robinson in late October asking that he investigate the alleged coach-led prayer. According to the organization: Football coaches have been holding religious “chapel” services for players before and after football games where coaches pray with players and read and discuss bible verses. After games, one coach reportedly holds religious services with players on the 50-yard line and leads players in prayer. Outside preachers are sometimes brought in to proselytize players.

The FFRF reminds the district that it’s illegal for public school athletic coaches to lead their teams in religious prayer. The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly struck down school-sponsored prayer in public schools, as it constitutes government endorsement and advancement of religion, which violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

“School officials are free to pray in their private lives however they would like,” says FFRF Co-President Dan Barker. “But when they are acting in their capacity as government employees, they are violating the constitutional rights of impressionable young students by inciting prayer and promoting religion.”

The FFRF has asked the district to respond, identifying the steps it’s taking to end the practice. It’s unclear how the district plans to proceed.

In 2017, a Washington high school football coach filed a lawsuit against his school district after it suspended him for refusing to discontinue his prayer ritual with players. He argued that the practice was protected by the Constitution, but the courts ruled against him.

One thought on “Missouri high school told to end coach-led prayer ritual”

  1. I think the founding fathers got it right when they wrote the preamble to Declaration of Independence and created a separation of church and state in the Constitution. When the preamble was first written it stated “We hold these truths to be “sacred…,” but after they reviewed it and composed the final draft they changed sacred to “self-evident.” Government and religion don’t mix well. We need a clear line of demarcation, and they knew it. Once it is blurred, you will open a Pandora’s Box like one we’ve never seen before. Probably best to keep it this way in public schools. I always kept pre and post-game prayer to myself. If the student-athletes wanted to engage in self-initiated prayer I didn’t stop them.

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