What a game, the national college football championship! In an exciting back-and-forth game, Alabama beat Clemson to take the national title. I was rooting for Clemson, even though–or perhaps because–they beat my alma mater, Oklahoma, in the playoffs.
In honor of the game, I would like to post an account by David French of how Dabo Swinney, the Clemson coach, stood up to the Freedom from Religion Foundation, when that group threatened legal action to stop the team’s custom of providing rides to church services if players wanted one. And, unlike the usual practice in higher education, Clemson University supported him!
From David French, Clemson Coach Dabo Swinney’s Christian Faith: He Won’t Hide It:
Dabo Swinney is a devout and outspoken Christian. In 2014 — before he’d established himself as one of college football’s elite coaches — his faith landed him in the crosshairs of one of America’s most malicious anti-religious organizations, the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF).
On April 10, 2014, the FFRF faxed a letter to the office of Clemson’s general counsel in which it complained that “Christian worship seems interwoven into Clemson’s football program.” The FFRF demanded that Clemson — a public university — not only require Swinney to “cease” his allegedly unconstitutional religious activities but also that it “train” the coaching staff and “monitor their conduct going forwards.”
Specifically, the FFRF claimed that Swinney had invited a man named James Trapp to become a team chaplain and gave him access to the team for Bible studies. They also claimed that Swinney scheduled team devotionals and “organized transportation for coaches and players to ‘Church Days.’”The FFRF claimed that even optional team religious events violated the Constitution, and that Swinney “sends a message of exclusion to those players on his team not in conformity with his personal religious beliefs.”
At this point, the university’s response was predictable. Surely it would do what virtually every public university does when confronted by far-left, anti-religious complaints: capitulate with all due speed. After all, universities from coast to coast have worked to systematically exclude Christian groups from campus, discriminate against Christian faculty in hiring, promotion, and retention, and they tend to believe that a “diverse” university should include only secular, progressive voices.
But Swinney held firm, and his university backed him. . .
The university made it known that there had been no complaints from athletes and that participation in religious activities was “purely voluntary.” The school went even further, declaring that the FFRF had “misconstrued important facts and made incorrect statements of the law.”Swinney didn’t yield, the university didn’t yield,