Football Coach Toes Religious Line

ATLANTA —
The Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation said in a letter to Walker County Schools that Ridgeland High School coach Mark Mariakis is pressuring players to attend a Christian football camp and taking the team to local churches for pre-game meals. The complaint also said the coach leads pre- or post-game prayers. District officials declined a recorded interview but said they are looking into the concerns outlined in a letter from the foundation. (Photo Courtesy of Savio Sebastian via Flickr.)
A Walker County high school football coach is coming under fire for allegedly violating the separation of church and state.

The Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation said in a letter to Walker County Schools that Ridgeland High School coach Mark Mariakis is violating the First Amendment.

gpb.org/news/2012/08/31/football-coach-toes-religious-line

Once again the militant Atheists are at it again trying to shove secularism down everyone’s throats. Anyone else get sick of this?

I’m sure atheists get tired of religion getting pushed down their throats. These things usually work both ways.

Yes. I am. And in charity I will not post anything about the post above me and pray.

If this is a public school that’s completely and totally unacceptable and out of line. This is not pushing secularism down everyone’s throats. It’s preventing a public school employee from pushing Christianity down the throats of kids. He needs to evangelize on his own time.

:confused:

The news article concerns allegations that the high school football coach was forcing his religious beliefs on his student-players. Whether those allegations are true or not, I don’t know. But if they are true, the coach has crossed a well-established line.

The news article concerns allegations that the high school football coach was forcing his religious beliefs on his student-players. Whether those allegations are true or not, I don’t know. But if they are true, the coach has crossed a well-established line.

Exactly,

John

But what if the students praying are indeed Christian because the girls basketball team at my previous high school(Public) would engage in prayer before the game, occasionally ask coach to lead in prayer.

occasionally ask coach to lead in prayer.

He must refuse. If the students wish to initiate prayer, that is completely legal. The coach can even pray along. However, an authority figure may not initiate or lead the prayer out of fear, justifiable in some cases, that the students would feel compelled to join in whether or not they truly wished to.

I believe this is a fair set of standards.

John

The same laws that protect atheists would also protect Christian students if their Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist or Wiccan coach did the same things.

As I’ve asked before in this venue, given the fierce anti-Catholic sentiment and minority status of that religion in this country prior to its founding, does anyone really think that there would be six Catholic justices on the US Supreme Court today if we didn’t have a secular form of government?

Indeed. See Why I’m against pre-game prayers. The law protects everyone, including Christians, from having religion forced on them in public schools.

rossum

i would like to know if this coach would have a problem with a player leading a rosary before the game? :shrug:

:thumbsup:

I wonder what the reaction here would be if the coach was a Muslim and he was leading them in Muslim prayers and taking them to mosques for meals…

That said…The article only alleges certain things, we need to withhold too much comment until after the school investigates.

Peace
James

:thumbsup:

did the churches offer to provide a meal for the athletes? I could see it being bad if they were prothesylizing to the athletes during the meal…but giving a meal at a church…I don’t see anything bad about that…to a point.

It’s a complicated area of the law, but based upon my understanding of the issues, I think it would depend upon a number of factors. Was it considered an official team activity? Was it promoted by a school authority (a coach)? Was school transportation provided? Were there ****any ****repercussions for not attending?

If, say, for instance, a local church had volunteered to provide a meal at their location and it wasn’t advertised by the school and athletes were absolutely free to attend or not, using their own transportation, then I doubt it would run afoul of the law. If those conditions were met, I would also not see any reason why the church couldn’t proselytize.

What frustrates me most about these types of cases is that there are resources available to teachers and school administrators who are uncertain about the law in these matters. If the complaint against this coach turns out to be accurate then that indicates to me that he either didn’t care about the law or was just too lazy to research it. If this controversy was due to his ignorance then it was entirely preventable; if it was due to his disregard for the law then he’s caused his school unnecessary attention and, possibly, legal expenses.

As I’ve asked before in this venue, given the fierce anti-Catholic sentiment and minority status of that religion in this country prior to its founding, does anyone really think that there would be six Catholic justices on the US Supreme Court today if we didn’t have a secular form of government?

An excellent question,

John

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.