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Sun Jun 9, 2019, 09:34 AM

Football coach baptizing on school property

Last edited Sun Jun 9, 2019, 10:30 AM - Edit history (2)


A concerned Washington County Schools community member informed FFRF that on May 16 several football players and other students were baptized on school district property after school. A video posted on social media shows the students being baptized and the head football coach participating and endorsing this religious exercise.

In the video, a man begins by noting: “None of this would be going on without head coach Devin Roberts.” The man then begins dunking students in a large plastic tub sitting on a trailer, while invoking “the father, the son and the holy spirit,” as others clap.

It is inappropriate for a public school district to organize a team baptism, FFRF stresses. It is equally inappropriate and unconstitutional for coaches to have participated.

Coaches may not organize or participate in religious activities, including baptisms, with students, FFRF writes. And coaches cannot allow religious leaders to gain unique access to students during school-sponsored activities. When baptisms take place directly before or after a team football practice, on school property, with coaches’ participation or leadership, any reasonable student would perceive these activities to be unequivocally endorsed by their school.

“It is well settled that public schools may not advance or promote religion,” FFRF Legal Fellow Chris Line writes to Superintendent John Dickey. “Courts have consistently held that it is illegal for a public school to organize, sponsor, or lead religious activity at public high school athletic events, such as football practice. In Lee v. Weisman, the Supreme Court extended the prohibition of school-sponsored religious activities beyond the classroom to all school functions, holding prayers at public high school graduations an impermissible establishment of religion. As a school-sponsored event, football practice cannot include any endorsement of religion or religious rituals.”

Proscribing school employees from engaging in prayer and religious devotion with students does not violate employees’ right to free speech, according to the courts. The Constitution’s prohibition against school-sponsored religious exercise also cannot be overcome by claiming such activities are “voluntary.” It makes no difference if the coach required players to opt-in to the baptism.

The conduct at Washington City Schools is especially problematic in the context of athletics, given the pressure players feel to conform to coaches’ expectations, FFRF points out. Student athletes are inclined to mirror the actions of team leaders to garner their favor. Students should not be expected to pray to play, much less to be baptized at a school event. By leading and participating in such events, coaches send a clear message that the athletic staff approves of these activities.

FFRF is asking Washington County Schools officials to instruct coaches and staff that they can neither organize nor participate in religious activities with students while acting in their official capacity.

“The involvement of a public school coach in baptisms is so over the top as to be ludicrous,” says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “You’d be hard-pressed to cite a display of sectarian religiosity more blatant than this.”

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national nonprofit organization with more than 31,000 members across the country, including hundreds in Alabama. Its purposes are to protect the constitutional principle of separation between state and church, and to educate the public on matters relating to nontheism.

https://ffrf.org/news/news-releases/item/34877-washington-co-schools-baptisms-must-stop-ffrf-declares

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Arrow 32 replies Author Time Post
Reply Football coach baptizing on school property (Original post)
yortsed snacilbuper Jun 2019 OP
no_hypocrisy Jun 2019 #1
marble falls Jun 2019 #3
Archae Jun 2019 #2
MineralMan Jun 2019 #4
Phoenix61 Jun 2019 #5
DownriverDem Jun 2019 #6
Traildogbob Jun 2019 #9
cwydro Jun 2019 #13
onetexan Jun 2019 #7
pstokely Jun 2019 #29
dalton99a Jun 2019 #8
leftyladyfrommo Jun 2019 #11
rockfordfile Jun 2019 #23
Buckeyeblue Jun 2019 #10
leftyladyfrommo Jun 2019 #12
angrychair Jun 2019 #18
Buckeyeblue Jun 2019 #22
angrychair Jun 2019 #24
yortsed snacilbuper Jun 2019 #25
Buckeyeblue Jun 2019 #27
yortsed snacilbuper Jun 2019 #31
Ms. Toad Jun 2019 #20
keithbvadu2 Jun 2019 #14
keithbvadu2 Jun 2019 #15
Ferrets are Cool Jun 2019 #16
usaf-vet Jun 2019 #17
hunter Jun 2019 #19
msongs Jun 2019 #21
John1956PA Jun 2019 #26
Freelancer Jun 2019 #28
brooklynite Jun 2019 #30
Freelancer Jun 2019 #32

Response to yortsed snacilbuper (Original post)

Sun Jun 9, 2019, 09:37 AM

1. That kind of stuff has been tolerated by public schools for decades.

In 1972, during Seminar Day, I found myself getting "saved" in a room off the high school library after I went to a seminar about the New Testament.

Fortunately it didn't take and I was "unsaved" within 24 hours.

But it was easy back then. "Godspell", "Jesus Christ, Superstar", and Jesus freaks were part of the youth culture.

Doesn't make it right.

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Response to no_hypocrisy (Reply #1)

Sun Jun 9, 2019, 09:55 AM

3. I was a member of YFC (youth for Christ) that met Friday afternoons after classes ...

we were the only club that met on Fridays.

That said: holding baptisms on school property is just plain wrong. Missionary work on school property is just plain wrong.

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Response to yortsed snacilbuper (Original post)

Sun Jun 9, 2019, 09:39 AM

2. Dave Daubenmire got fired for shit like this.

He has a YouTube channel, now.

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Response to yortsed snacilbuper (Original post)

Sun Jun 9, 2019, 09:59 AM

4. Could we have a link to this story, please?

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Response to yortsed snacilbuper (Original post)

Sun Jun 9, 2019, 10:29 AM

5. It's Alabama. nt

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Response to yortsed snacilbuper (Original post)

Sun Jun 9, 2019, 11:18 AM

6. Before I clicked on the link, I knew

it was in the south. We should have let them leave in the 1860s.

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Response to DownriverDem (Reply #6)

Sun Jun 9, 2019, 11:28 AM

9. FTS

Imagine a coach leading Muslim Prayer before a game. Or a hard right Morman coach marrying a player to his 5 wife, 13 year old. All other religions should start bringing their religious freedoms up the Evilgelicals faces. Good for the Goose.

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Response to DownriverDem (Reply #6)

Sun Jun 9, 2019, 11:48 AM

13. Right, because there are no ignorant people anywhere else in the country.

Always someone to come along and south bash.

Did you hear about the guy in Minnesota directing a power sprayer through a Somali family’s windows? How about the California guy with the swastika in his back yard? The latest KKK march?

I could go on.

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Response to yortsed snacilbuper (Original post)

Sun Jun 9, 2019, 11:25 AM

7. Do the parents of these kids know this overzealous religious

Nut is doing this to their impressionable kids?

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Response to onetexan (Reply #7)

Mon Jun 10, 2019, 04:58 AM

29. parents are probably overzealous religious nuts as well

they can get away with this in the bible belt

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Response to yortsed snacilbuper (Original post)

Sun Jun 9, 2019, 11:25 AM

8. His mobile soul-saving machine:




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Response to dalton99a (Reply #8)

Sun Jun 9, 2019, 11:42 AM

11. They were here in KCMO. Last summer in Northeast Park

There were ponies and everything. The kids were loving it. That's a pretty poor part of town.

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Response to dalton99a (Reply #8)

Sun Jun 9, 2019, 02:57 PM

23. Religion is just a cult

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Response to yortsed snacilbuper (Original post)

Sun Jun 9, 2019, 11:30 AM

10. My small school district allows a private citizen to decorate for Christmas and Easter

There is a grassy island in the parking lot. At Christmas there is a Nativity Scene with a prominent cross. And at Easter there is a cross but also an Easter Bunny. And at Halloween there are harvest decorations. The district is small. The family that does it has been doing the decorating for years.

I post this to illustrate that there is a great deal more religion in school than we think. I'm an atheist. I thought about complaining about it but I don't think in the grand scheme of things it hurts anyone.

Oh, and this is in Michigan.

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Response to Buckeyeblue (Reply #10)

Sun Jun 9, 2019, 11:45 AM

12. That doesn't bother me one bit.

Xmas is fun. I like it all. I like the Santas and trees and all the pretty lights. Nativity scenes are just part of it all.

I like all the holidays.



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Response to Buckeyeblue (Reply #10)

Sun Jun 9, 2019, 12:59 PM

18. With all due respect it does hurt

Do you have any atheists in that school? What about Buddhist? Jews? Islamists? Satanists?

Do they get equal time for their holidays?

In the past I have been unrelenting and openly hostile in my feelings on religion, any religion. I have always felt It should be crushed out of existence. Religions spread hate, ignorance, violence and intolerance.

I have softened that opinion with an exception: as long as said religious person/people keep their views and beliefs to themselves and never use it to influence public policy or discourse, keeping their perspective private, than I don't care.

Putting up decorations, outside your home much less at a school, violates that exception.

Essentially, this is normalizing, acclimating, people to their religious norms, specifically, their religious norms.
Because, even among Christians, the dates for holidays like Christmas and Easter, can be very different.
Celebrating Christmas was even against the law in the US in the early years and was rarely celebrated until the 1840s.
We need less of these things, not more.

A great deal of the conflict in out society, from climate change to healthcare, is in conflict because of evangelicals Christians in the US.

We have to halt this influence on public thought and discourse or it will be the ruin of us all.

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Response to angrychair (Reply #18)

Sun Jun 9, 2019, 02:38 PM

22. While I agree with you that religion may be more harmful than good

I have to balance my beliefs with the beliefs of others. And I also have to co-exist with my neighbors (as do my kids and spouse). I do have a line, that if crossed I would speak up and ask that the action/behavior be remediated. I think the administrators at the school know they are walking a fine line with this. And the decorations are nicely done.

And I do think if another religion wanted to put up a symbol it would be allowed.

While I think we give too much deference to religious beliefs, I do think it is everyone's right to practice their religion. We just shouldn't be making policies based on 2000 year old myths.

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Response to Buckeyeblue (Reply #22)

Sun Jun 9, 2019, 06:05 PM

24. I appreciate your position

I believe we, as atheists, have tried to be accommodating and tolerant but we let the line blur and now we are now closer to a theocratic nightmare on Earth than we ever have before.

We have allowed religion to dominate our money itself, the irony of having their God's name on money eludes them.
Their religion now dominates every aspect of our lives: culture, politics, education, science and business are all unduly influenced by their religion.

We now sit have a number of states fighting as hard as they can to turn women into second class citizens. Their plans for the LGBTQ are far worse.

I've given up at this point. I'm trying as hard as I can to relocate outside the US.

What is coming is likely unstoppable at this point and people like me won't fair well in their new nation.

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Response to angrychair (Reply #24)

Sun Jun 9, 2019, 07:27 PM

25. "Their religion now dominates every aspect of our lives"

The future is bleak.

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Response to angrychair (Reply #24)

Sun Jun 9, 2019, 09:06 PM

27. I worry as well...I think things are beyond bad

But it's not because the school displays a Nativity Scene.

It's because the president has embraced white supremacist. And they are the new Christians who continue to make up their religion as they go.

We need to GOTV and drive them back to their back sheds

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Response to angrychair (Reply #24)

Mon Jun 10, 2019, 10:41 AM

31. "the irony of having their God's name on money eludes them. "


Not on my money.

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Response to Buckeyeblue (Reply #10)

Sun Jun 9, 2019, 02:05 PM

20. The constitution doesn't require religion be banned -

It requries the rules have a secular putpose (here - community involvement in the schools)
And that the rules neither advance nor inhibit religion (so - if the rules allow any community group to decorate, they cannot prohibit religious groups {inhibiting religion} nor can they exclude non-religious groups {advancing or favoring religion over non-religion})

So if you wanted to challenge it - you would need to find a non-religious group (or a Jewish, Muslim, Wicca, etc. group) to ask to decorate, have them be turned down, and then you'd have a case.

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Response to yortsed snacilbuper (Original post)

Sun Jun 9, 2019, 11:58 AM

14. ...that the government sanction of a religion was, in essence, a threat to religion

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/americas-true-history-of-religious-tolerance-61312684/?no-ist= ;

Madison also made a point that any believer of any religion should understand: that the government sanction of a religion was, in essence, a threat to religion. "Who does not see," he wrote, "that the same authority which can establish Christianity, in exclusion of all other Religions, may establish with the same ease any particular sect of Christians, in exclusion of all other Sects?" Madison was writing from his memory of Baptist ministers being arrested in his native Virginia.

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Response to yortsed snacilbuper (Original post)

Sun Jun 9, 2019, 12:08 PM

15. ...rather than let the parents decide how to raise their children.

Funny how 'freedom of religion' folks want gov't schools to teach religion to our children rather than let the parents decide how to raise their children.

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Response to yortsed snacilbuper (Original post)

Sun Jun 9, 2019, 12:25 PM

16. I used to live in this county. They are extremely backward

and this is not the most egregious thing that high school coaches have done to their players. A boys neck was broken when he was laying on the playing field and the coach yanked on his face mask because he didn't get up fast enough. No charges were filed.
Another time, the coach made his players take "horse" pills to give them more stamina.

The stupid runs deep there.

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Response to yortsed snacilbuper (Original post)

Sun Jun 9, 2019, 12:48 PM

17. When and where does this stuff end in public school.

When will they totally scrap any textbooks in any subject area then substitute the bible?

Just think of the areas these religious zealots seek to use the bible.

History of course. Ancient history only needs to consider 6000 years.
Math would be a measurement in cubits by cubits https://answersingenesis.org/noahs-ark/how-long-was-the-original-cubit/
Home Economics https://www.listchallenges.com/50-biblical-recipes
Detention policies no problem.https://dailyverses.net/punishment
Social Studies https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/List_of_actions_prohibited_by_the_Bible

WHERE DOES IT END. ZEALOTS have no boundaries.

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Response to yortsed snacilbuper (Original post)

Sun Jun 9, 2019, 01:48 PM

19. Where's the smart ass kid yelling "AGGGHHHH! It burns! It burns!"

The community I grew up in was 99% white but there was enough religious and areligious diversity to curb this kind of evangelical nonsense.

Catholic, Mormon, Orthodox, Jewish, and atheist parents wouldn't have tolerated this.

I remember a huge stink when an evangelical Christian group handed out free Bibles on the sidewalks outside the high school, and also how a lot of these Bibles got defaced by rebellious teens.

My own parents taught us to respect ALL books. Fahrenheit 451 was required reading in our house.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fahrenheit_451

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Response to yortsed snacilbuper (Original post)

Sun Jun 9, 2019, 02:18 PM

21. u can bet kids who dont go along with this are penalized and abused by their teen peers nt

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Response to yortsed snacilbuper (Original post)

Sun Jun 9, 2019, 07:46 PM

26. Here is a similar case from 2016 in Mississippi:

https://www.wlbt.com/story/33462380/investigation-opened-after-newton-football-coach-baptizes-player/ :

By Morgan Howard | October 24, 2016 at 5:29 PM CDT - Updated July 2 at 1:05 AM
NEWTON COUNTY, MS (Mississippi News Now) - A Mississippi high school is facing controversy after word got out that a football coach baptized one of his players.

The Newton High Tigers are having a great season on the field but, according to WTOK in Meridian, some people are upset after hearing the coach baptized one of his players.

In a letter from the Freedom Religion Foundation, the group says that Coach Ryan Smith organized and performed a baptism with the rest of the team present.

. . .



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Response to yortsed snacilbuper (Original post)


Response to Freelancer (Reply #28)

Mon Jun 10, 2019, 06:54 AM

30. Slippery slope...

What other religious activities is it accceptable for school officials to engage in?

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Response to brooklynite (Reply #30)

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