Friday, December 06, 2019

Missouri AG Supports High School Football Coaches' Prayer Practices

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt this week released a letter (full text) which he sent on Dec. 3 to the superintendent of the Cameron, Missouri School District supporting high school football coaches against charges in a letter (full text) from the Freedom From Religion Foundation . In its Oct. 28 letter, FFRF said in part:
It is our understanding the Cameron High School's head football coach, Jeff Wallace, and assistant football coach, David Stucky, have been holding religious "chapel" services for players before and after football games where coaches pray with players and read and discuss bible verses.  We understand that after games, Coach Wallace holds religious services with players on the fifty-yard line and leads players in prayer.  We understand that Coach Wallace often brings in outside preachers to proselytize to players as well.
It is illegal for public school athletic coaches to lead their teams in prayer or religious worship.
Responding to this, Attorney General Schmitt in his letter said in part:
FFRF is an extreme anti-religion organization that seeks to intimidate local governments into surrendering their citizens' religious freedom and to expunge any mention of religion from the public square....
Our understanding is that no coach or other Cameron official has forced any football player to participate in prayer or taken any action against any player who chose not to participate.   The prayer occurs outside of the football game.  The prayer is not broadcast over stadium loudspeakers, and fans evidently cannot hear any part of the prayer.  The school district reports that it received no complaints from anyone about the prayer, and FFRF does not reference any complainant in their letter.   Evidently, FFRF's threat does not reflect any discomfort with the prayers in the local community.  Rather, it reflects only FFRF's radical agenda. And without a complainant, FFRF lacks standing to sue the school district, no matter how strongly it objects to this voluntary prayer.
 Friendly Atheist blog reports on these developments.