Freedom of Speech lives on in NFL football fields while Freedom of Religion dies on high school gridirons in Coweta County, Georgia. The Georgia county’s school district has forbidden coaches and other school district employees from participating in student-initiated prayer. Citizens in the community were shocked at the district’s action.
The declaration came after the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), an unforgiving Christianity-bashing atheist organization located in Wisconsin, sent a complaint to the school board in Georgia. The superintendent took the complaint to the school board’s attorney, who instructed the district to issue the ban on employee participation in prayer.
The issue arose when East Coweta football coach John Small was recorded on camera bowing his head in solidarity with his team during a student-initiated prayer following a game. The video found its way to the FFRF.
In the October 25 letter to Superintendent Steve Barker, FFRF Legal Fellow Chris Line wrote in part, “Coach Small’s conduct is unconstitutional because he endorses and promotes his religion when acting in his official capacity as a school district employee.”
The letter was forwarded to Nathan Lee, attorney for the school board, who issued a memo advising the school district to bow to the FFRF. How someone following a student-led prayer is promoting a religion is confusing, considering that the coach could have just been paying his respects. However, that would be common-sense, something that few liberals seem to have nowadays.
Lee advised, “Representatives of the school cannot participate in any student-initiated or student-led prayer or other worship while acting in their official capacity. 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.”
Superintendent Barker then met with the coaches at the three district high schools to advise them of how they may conduct themselves during student-led prayers. A copy of Lee’s memo was distributed to school principals in the district.
“As superintendent, it is very important that when we have any matter with a legal question that we pass along the information to our employees,” Barker said.
The Constitutional provision in issue is The Establishment Clause found in the First Amendment, which states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”
Somehow, over the years, atheists and lawyers have convinced the courts that prayer at school events runs afoul of this language, although Congress has never made a law establishing religion. However, the school district is allowed to prohibit Coach Small’s free exercise of religion. Meanwhile, players in the NFL are allowed to disrespect the National Anthem and they consider that Freedom of Speech.
The FFRF touts itself as a “freethink” organization with 29,500 members, including a whopping total of 400 in Georgia. It is unclear how many, if any, members it has in Coweta County.
On its website, FFRF celebrated its squashing of religious freedom with the mocking headline “FFRF tackles coach-led prayers at Ga. School.” It has launched a social media campaign that allows people to post their picture with devil horns alongside a message stating “Not Afraid of Burning in Hell.”
The FFRF has a history of going after institutions across the United States. In June, the group sent similar complaints to two school districts in western Kansas after basketball coaches were reported to have been present during student-led prayers.
The group is also known to lash out over nativity scenes on government property and when private business owners offer discounts to patrons who bring in their church bulletins. In other words, anything that remotely resembles religion is something that they will go after.
One thing the FFRF has gotten right: for Liberals, it’s not about Freedom OF Religion, it’s about Freedom FROM Religion, and they will not rest as long as people are free to practice their religions in the United States.
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