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Georgia School District Bans Coach from Praying with Football Team

Amanda Casanova | Contributor | Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Georgia School District Bans Coach from Praying with Football Team

A Georgia school district has told a high school football coach and other employees in the district that they cannot participate in student-led prayer.

"Representatives of the school cannot participate in any student initiated/student led prayer or worship while acting in their official capacity," a legal memorandum written by Coweta County school board attorney Nathan Lee that was passed on to employees at all district schools on Monday, reads.

The directive comes after the Freedom From Religion Foundation filed a complaint against coach-led prayer.

The complaint included a picture of football coach John Small where he was praying with his team. FFRF legal fellow Christopher Line said Small’s praying with his time violates the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.

"Coach Small's conduct is unconstitutional because he endorses and promotes his religion when acting in his official capacity as a school district employee," Line's letter said. "Certainly, he represents the school and the team when he acts in his official role as Head Coach of the [East] Coweta High School football team. Therefore, he cannot lead his team in prayer and he cannot organize or advocate for students to lead team prayer either."

The FFRF said they were happy with the school district’s decision.

"We appreciate the district's swift action to address the violation and its commitment to protecting the rights of conscience for all of its students," FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor said in a statement.


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Publication date: November 1, 2017