Why Are So Many High School Football Coaches Preaching to Their Athletes?

The video below, part of The Atheist Voice series, discusses how dozens of high school football coaches in the South are preaching Christianity to their athletes:

You can read more details about the story here.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on the project — more videos will be posted soon — and we’d also appreciate your suggestions as to which questions we ought to tackle next! [Read more…]

Should This TV Commenter Have Been Fired For an Off-the-Air Comment About Gay Marriage?

I’d like your opinion on this:

Sports commentator Ralph Gurdy was recently fired from an NBC affiliate for saying — not on the air, but during a public function unrelated to his TV work — that gay people are born that way and that there’s nothing wrong with same-sex marriage.

That’s pretty weird and outrageous, isn’t it?

It didn’t actually happen (I made it up as a thought experiment; there is no Ralph Gurdy who’s a talking head for NBC), but this did: Sports commentator Craig James (pictured below) was fired from a regional Fox outfit because he was “not a good fit” and a “polarizing figure in the college sports community.” Fox also said that James, who had just one on-air performance before he was kicked out, had not been “properly vetted.”

So far, so uninteresting, but the problem lies in a further statement made to the Dallas Morning News by an unidentified Fox spokesperson who referred to James’s unsuccessful Senate run, during which the candidate said that being gay is a choice and that gay people will have to answer to God.

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Article Notes How Dozens of Public High School Football Coaches in the South Think Proselytizing is Part of Practice

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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Atheist Billboards Go Up in Bryan and College Station, Texas

Just in time for the big Texas A&M game against #1-ranked Alabama this weekend, the newly-formed Brazos Valley Coalition of Reason has put up four billboards in the Bryan and College Station, Texas areas (near where the game will be played):

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NFL Running Back Arian Foster Says He’ll Teach His Daughter About the Flying Spaghetti Monster

Arian Foster of the Houston Texans wrote an article for Yahoo! Shine explaining what he wants to teach his daughter Zeniah.

Most of it is what you might expect: Be kind, know your self-worth, handle money wisely… but then I got to the final item and did a spit-take:

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