Bryant High School coach invites all to team worship. That’s a no-no.

My father just alerted me to a posting on the facebook page for Bryant High School down in Bryant, Arkansas.  I’m just going to leave it here…and in the inbox of the FFRF.

Invitation from Coach Paul Calley: The Bryant Hornet Football Team Worship is this Sunday, Aug 25th at Otter Creek Assembly of God, 10:30 am kickoff. Our guest speaker will be Dr Fitz Hill, President of Arkansas Baptist College. I would like to invite anyone and everyone that would like to join us in worshiping The Lord and kicking off the football season the right way! This tradition has been a blessing to me, our staff, our players and all of our families and we would love for you to come and share in this exceptional experience with us!

The school can’t be inviting people to worship the lord.  This is 100%, no grey area, illegal.

About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.

  • Compuholic

    From the screenshot it looks like there is at least one person that has some common sense.

    Unfortunately the “likes” seem to be distributed in the entirely wrong direction.

    • Anne Orsi

      The person with common sense is the Activism Committee Chairperson for the Arkansas Society of Freethinkers. This won’t be ignored.

  • Jasper

    “Why does it matter who extends the invitation”

    How I wish I could hop onto their school facebook account and invite people to be Muslims.

    • baal

      If I wanted to make the team; I might fake my religion or play it up if I knew the coach was rabidly religious. Or, I might wonder if I didn’t make the team because of anti-atheist bias on the part of the coach. Either way, it’s pretty coercive.

  • JoseValdes

    Look at August 23, 2012, April 25, 2011, March 28, 2011, August 28, 2010 as well…

    “All Bryant Hornet fans, one of our own is in need of prayer! Please lift him up so that he can be healed in Jesus Name!”

    Seriously? That is not okay…

  • Art_Vandelay

    It doesn’t even matter what FB page it’s posted on, just that there’s a high school football team worship in the first place is reprehensible.

  • Loqi

    Don’t worry, I’m sure it’s an entirely secular worship service where they worship secular Jesus. Plus the worship service was donated by a former student, so it’s totally ok now.

  • Art_Vandelay

    Hey JT…can I get your opinion on something based on your experience with the SSA? My niece and five of her friends told me this past weekend that the 9th grade Science teacher at the local HS prefaces all of her evolution lessons with…”I just want you to know that I don’t believe any of this because I’m a Christian and I believe in the bible, but they’re making me teach it to you and it will probably be on the NECAP so we have to get through it.”

    Is that okay? I mean obviously, it’s not okay…but is it a transgression?

    • JTEberhard

      I’m…not sure. Give me a few.

    • JTEberhard

      Ok, I contacted a lawyer I know who does this kind of work. He said:

      “I think the teacher ought to keep her religion to herself. Substitute
      other religions in her sentence, or better yet, substitute an atheist
      teaching a bible as literature class: “I just want you to know that I
      don’t believe any of this nonsense because I’m an atheist and I believe
      in reality, but it may come in useful understanding literature so we
      have to get through it.” Legally it’s a closer call – I would be
      willing to bet that she doesn’t do a good job teaching it though, and
      that is less of a close call. ”

      Not sure that helps, as I’m not sure how many lawyers would take a close call case. However, if your niece can get an audio recording, I could put public pressure onto the school.

      • Art_Vandelay

        Thanks! I figured it was pretty gray. Yeah after what happened with Jessica, finding a plaintiff in this state for something like that would be a Herculean task anyway. I’d be interested in a recording as well but I could never ask a kid to do that and risk getting in trouble.

  • Jasper

    Hermph. It’ll need to escalate somehow, before I can make record of it. I usually like to cite newspaper articles, etc. I’m sure people will flip out soon enough.

  • Strador

    No one is forcing anyone to do anything. It is clearly an invitation from the coach and not a school sponsored event. No sense in making a big deal…

    • Jasper

      Manifestations of the government aren’t even allowed to show preference, let alone forcing anything on anyone. This is significantly precedent.

      It’s the official coach of the school, acting officially as the coach, using the official school Facebook page to advertise a religious preference towards the official school’s team.

      It’s difficult to be more entangled than that.

      Nor is it a “small deal”, in that the theocrats are always using the smaller infractions, when they can get away with them, to justify further infractions… like ratcheting up a car using a carjack.

      As minor as “In God We Trust” appearing on our money may seem to be, it’s still frequently used as a justification for Christian nationhood, and Christian privilege in this country.

      The 10-commandments monument in Austin Texas (Van Order vs Perry), was ruled to be “secular in nature”, and allowed because no one had complained about it before (even though the nation was very hostile to non-believers/non-theocrats for many decades, so of course no one did)… effectively grandfathering it in.

      The lesson? Complain. Complain now. On everything. We can’t let anything pass.

    • 23cal

      Instead of ” forcing anyone to do anything”, let’s use the term “coercion”. Surely we can agree that kids shouldn’t be coerced to go to this thing. I don’t think you appreciate the nature of coercion. Although the worship gathering isn’t mandatory, do you really think there is a high school kid anywhere who doesn’t realize that skipping coach’s team building praise Jesus gathering will impact his playing time? That is coercion.

  • Savpunk

    I’m sorry, JT, I just have to chime in on the comment made by the attorney you spoke to about the creationist science teacher (which is a horrifying subject in and of itself). I know he was trying to be helpful, but substituting an atheist teaching the Bible as literature for a creationist teaching evolution is a lousy analogy.

    Religious texts are literature, whether it’s the OT, the NT, the Quran, the Vedas, or even the old Greek, Roman, and Egyptian mythologies. An atheist teaching a religious text would see it as ordinary, human writing, analyze, and deconstruct it, and refer to secular, scholarly research. Maybe a believer could do that. Maybe not.

    When I was an undergraduate, I took the OT and the NT as Literature – there was nothing religious about the classes, the material, or the way the professors covered the classes. I haven’t the faintest idea what my professors’ religious views were; it never came up in those classes any more than it did in my other literature classes.

  • Alee

    I just read the whole Facebook thread over this, and I am troubled by the fundamental lack of understanding of the law (and of grammar). I’ve got to move out of the South. The ignorance is killing me slowly.

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