In a frightening-yet-not-at-all-shocking article in the Chattanooga Times Free Press today, Stephen Hargis reports that the number of football coaches who think preaching Christianity is part of the game plan isn’t just a single individual or even a handful of people. The problem is much worse than that:
Responding to a Times Free Press survey, 32 coaches who work in public schools in Tennessee, Georgia or Alabama professed to be Christian; all said they endorse some form of team prayer. Those coaches said they consider the increased activity by the Wisconsin-based foundation a violation of their religious rights and of their ability to mold the boys on their team into moral young men.
“We as coaches fail if we only teach football, so we try to set an example of how a Christian man handles any situation,” Ridgeland High coach Mark Mariakis said. “I want the kids to remember that example more than anything they learn on the football field.”
If that name is familiar, it’s because Mariakis is the coach from Georgia who led his team in prayer before and after games:
Mariakis notes that the only thing that has changed since last year is that he has stopped leading the team prayers. Now, he lets the students do it. (Are they the captains? I don’t know, but I’m guessing that’s probably the case since he calls them the team “leaders,” which makes the prayers all the more coercive to the rest of the team.)
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