In a world where headline news often covers such difficult topics as violence, crime, war, or terrorism this story might not seem to “fit.”
But it’s a very important one to be aware of, in our Nation, under God.
A middle school football team’s coach was called out and reprimanded for kneeling along with his team while his players prayed.
An atheist organization, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, as well as the school district, took issue with this coach’s actions.
A video, which posted to Facebook on October 7th by a team member’s parent, shows coach Eddie Metcalf taking a knee in the pre-game huddle. A report says that, “It was unclear if the coach actually took part in the prayer led by one of his players, but according to the Wakulla County School Board, that ‘act of reverence’ is against the law.”
"That's not allowable under the law," Superintendent Robert Pearce told television station WCTV. "The coach may not participate in the prayer."
Pearce also added that the district has held training seminars about prayer on the football field. He states, "What we want our coaches to do -- and what most people have survived with in regards to meeting the letter of the law -- is to have separation from the players, two to three steps. You are allowed to have reverent respect for their prayer." But obviously, “reverent respect” does not include taking a knee in a huddle.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation complained about Coach Metcalf to the school board, accusing him of “promoting religion on the job,” and calling his actions “unconstitutional.” Apparently, they found his video on Facebook and set to work to make a case against him.
FFRF attorney Andrew Seidel wrote in a letter to the school district, “Coach Metcalf’s conduct is unconstitutional because he endorses and promotes his religion when acting in his official capacity as a school district employee,” alleging that a football coach who takes a knee to pray with his team is a “serious and flagrant violation of the First Amendment.”
But Metcalf is not alone in his actions. A number of NFL players, such as San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, have also been noted to take a knee during the National Anthem this season.
The Wakulla News quoted the coach in a post: “The prayer in question was a student-initiated prayer, and I was kneeling with them. I didn’t know (I couldn’t), I thought it was a gray area. But since then, I ‘ve been instructed on that particular situation, when the kids start to pray, I have to walk away and turn my back…”
The outcry across social media has been huge, and many have expressed their full support of Coach Metcalf. Jeremy Smith is one man among many others, who knows the coach well through their small community. He says, “This coach has poured his life into this town. When you hear about men among men – he is that kind of man.”
“We are not asking the school to teach Christianity or Islam or Buddhism,” Smith said in a Fox News report by Todd Starnes, “But if a Christian wants to take a knee with students, they should take a knee.”
Starnes writes in his report that Smith and others in the community are organizing a group to defend the coach and send a message to the school district.
“They want the prayer policy changed.”
I think many more would agree, all across this nation.
Lord help us. Give your wisdom and courage to our nation. May your people always be known as a “people of prayer,” no matter what someone else may think is “appropriate” or not. Thank you for the power that comes through prayer and that your ways are always greater than what this world will try to control.
So what are your thoughts? Should the school district have the authority to tell a coach he can’t kneel with his team in a student-led prayer, but must “walk away and separate himself from the players?” Should Coach Metcalf have been reprimanded for kneeling in prayer and supporting his players?
Photo courtesy: Wikimedia Commons
Publication date: December 16, 2016