A reader sent in this story (identifying info has been removed).
It shows how simple it can be to correct a policy you think is illegal — without the use of lawsuits, angry words, or drawn-out battles:
My state university (I graduated a few years back) has a pretty good football team, is almost always in the top 25, and has a head coach who is very well respected in the university community.
Like any other football program, we have plenty of players who thank God in interviews and on the field for the blessings of talent, luck or whatever it is that let’s them play big time football.
The team even has a chaplain (paid entirely by donations) from the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. I read on a university sports message board that the head coach of the football team instituted a “No Cussing” policy at practice for coaches. For each offense, coaches had to pay a fine. The fines were then apparently being donated to charity. Unfortunately, the charity seemed to be the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
I posted on the board that I though this seemed unconstitutional and asked if anyone had an idea of who I should send an e-mail to. Naturally, this was met with a large amount of indifference and an equally large amount of indignant frustration that I would even question such a program.
I decided to send an e-mail to the university athletic director, director of football operations and head coach expressing my concerns that this could be seen as a violation of the establishment clause.
The head coach is an employee of a state university and appeared to be compelling his underlings to donate to a explicitly religious organization. I figured better to send a letter raising the question than find out later that the school and football program I love were about to be on the wrong side of a lawsuit.
I quickly received a reply indicating that the situation had been corrected.
I am sure that any coaches who support the FCA will see that their money gets there one way or another, but it will be because they choose to donate, and not because they were compelled by an an authority figure at a state university. Sometimes just a quick e-mail is enough to change the way things are done.
Has anyone else achieved a victory (be it small or large) doing something so seemingly harmless?
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