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Fumbling the Football

four-football-postersFootball ignites the headlines already. The season starts well before baseball season is over – it’s already a headline catcher.  Football coaches at every level of the sport, whether high school or professional, are being reminded that there is a restriction on religious activities that coaches can promote with the team. The Supreme Court stated that a “school district has a constitutional right to protect students from religious coercion…”

Some coaches have fueled the flames of controversy by defying the law and the court. One Tennessee High School coach is pushing the envelope when he stated to the Tennessean, “Every day when we finish practice, we take a knee, bow our heads and say the Lord’s Prayer at practice …” and before each game I tell them to pray for themselves and their teammates.

Defying the courts is an unwise decision and there is a price in doing so by coaches or anyone. Such religious practices have been ruled out of bounds by the courts. A football coach job description doesn’t include religious activities. Coaches in high schools are not exempt from the law; ignoring court rulings is hazardous to a coaching career. The courts’ interpretation and application of this ruling only applies to public schools and does not extend to parochial schools.

It’s patriotic, and American, to call such violations to the attention of school administrators and seek redress in such situations.  The court ruling acknowledges that.  There is a proper time and place for religious activities. As I understand it, a football coach can observe the rules by simply announcing there will be a moment of silence by the team and not making any faith-based comments.

Rev. Charles Moreland
Rev. Charles Moreland
Rev. Charles Moreland, retired, has lived in Clarksville for seven years and holds great pride in his adopted city and its people. His one objection in Tennessee is the Hall law of taxes on dividends and savings. Charles served in the U.S. Army Chaplaincy from 1966-1986, retiring to serve as a United Methodist pastor near Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. He serves on the Boards of Directors for the ARP, Roxy Theater and MCDP. Though retired, he is a regular speaker at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. His five grandchildren, ages two to thirteen years, live in Evansville, Indiana. He is a veteran of the Vietnam War and served in Germany and Korea while on active duty.
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