Anti-religious group wants football coach investigated for promoting ‘Christianity to his students’

Liberty-Benton Eagles' Football/ Facebook

The Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF), whose idea of religious freedom is barring people from freely expressing their religion to other people while doing anything remotely government-funded, is going after an Ohio high school football team whose coach “is using his position to promote Christianity to his students.”

As is their usual practice, the FFRF claimed that an anonymous “community member” complained to the organization and brought its scrutiny onto the Liberty-Benton Eagles football team, according to reporting by The Courier in Ohio.

The letter that FFRF sent to district Superintendent Mark Kowalski, dated Sept. 1, reported that “Coach [Scott] Garlock requires players to lead prayers at team meals, leads students in the Lord’s Prayer before games, and leads students in a post-game prayer. Our complainant reports that Coach Garlock started these practices many years ago when he was the team’s coach and that he passed them onto the next coach, who also implemented these practices until Coach Garlock became head coach again this year and resumed these practices himself.”

The letter came from a staff attorney with the nonprofit, which is based in Madison, Wis.

“We also understand there is a school-sponsored prayer that takes place before each game. We understand this ‘Friday Night Prayer’ tradition involves the school marching band playing ‘Amazing Grace,’ and then leading parents, families and cheerleaders onto the field for prayer,” the letter said.

Saying that the U.S. Supreme Court has continually struck down school-sponsored prayer in public schools, the FFRF called both practices illegal, and demanded that the coach’s freedom of speech be nullified.

The superintendent responded to the complaint in a letter dated Sept. 29. He did not call the coach’s actions illegal, but did say that measures were taken to address the complaints. Kowalski’s response also said staff members would be briefed about “the sensitivities surrounding school employees being involved in prayer with students on school grounds and on school time.”


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