FFRF Reminds Illinois High Schools That Coaches May Not Pray with Students

The boys’ basketball team at Pana High School in Illinois apparently prays with coaches after every game. And we know this because they post images of it on Facebook:

PanaBoys

The Freedom From Religion Foundation has now written to the Pana School District, along with a couple of other small Illinois schools, reminding them that the law forbids coaches to lead or participate in school-sponsored prayers:

Public school coaches must refrain not only from leading prayers themselves, but also from participating in students’ prayers. It is unconstitutional for public school employees to join in the religious activities of their students, even as silent participants in student prayer circles.

“The basketball coaches’ conduct is unconstitutional because they endorse and promote religion when acting in their official capacities as school district representatives,” says FFRF’s Legal Fellow Ryan Jayne in a Feb. 9 letter to the three school districts. “When public school employees acting in their official capacities organize and advocate for team prayer, they effectively endorse religion on the district’s behalf.”

What’s amazing is that people in these Districts flaunt these illegal actions for the world to see. They’re likely just ignorant of the law, but even as I write this, the pictures directly mentioned in FFRF’s letter have been deleted from Facebook while others (like the one posted above) remain public.

They’re proud to send the message that non-Christian students have no place on their team.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.


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