Missouri’s Attorney General said he backs two Cameron, Mo. football coaches who were targeted by an atheist group for leading young players in prayer before and after games, reports FOX4kc.com.
In a letter to the superintendent of the Cameron School District, Attorney General Eric Schmitt said coaches Jeff Wallace and David Stucky were not in violation of the Constitution when they led students in prayer.
“I write to assure you that the Establishment Clause does not prohibit public prayer and that the First Amendment protects the rights of public-school students to engage in prayer in public places,” the letter states.
In November the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a Wisconsin-based group whose stated mission is to “protect the constitutional principle of separation between church and state,” said it received a complaint from an unnamed person about head football coach Jeff Wallace and his assistant David Stucky.
The organization contacted the school district and urged Superintendent Matt Robinson to take immediate action to stop all school-sponsored prayers.
“The District will be performing an investigation into the allegations and concerns raised by the FFRF, pursuant to District’s non-discrimination policy and policy regarding religious expression, to determine whether District policy has been violated. The District will also take immediate interim measures to protect students from further possible violations of District policy. No local complaints were brought to the attention of administration of the school district,” Robinson said in a statement to FOX4.
In a statement, the Freedom From Religion Foundation acknowledged that students are allowed to pray at school, but that coaches aren’t allowed to lead or participate in the prayer.
“This conduct is unquestionably illegal, and Attorney General Schmitt likely knows that, which is why he cites no case law regarding the Supreme Court’s clear decisions about religious endorsement and prayer in public schools.” FFRF attorney Chris Line said. “Instead, he cites legislative prayer cases that have no bearing on whether school officials can engage in religious activities with students.”
FOX4 has reached out to the School District for comment.