Football coach who arranged a mass team baptism ‘is not normal’

Football coach who arranged a mass team baptism ‘is not normal’ June 17, 2019

NOT normal as in unhinged? Definitely! But when a pastor described Devin Roberts, head football coach at Washington County High School in Chatom, Alabama, as ‘not normal’ he meant is as a compliment.

Images via Facebook

Roberts, inset above, had arranged for the pastor to dunk 18 team members in grubby grey tub on wheels so they could commit their lives to Jesus. In a video of this stupid and illegal caper which took place last month, the unnamed pastor said:

None of this would be going on without head coach Devin Roberts. Now, Devin Roberts is not normal— this is not going on all over the United States. I’ve see it in a few places and it’s pretty neat but Coach Devon Roberts is not only the kind of guy that loves his players for how well they do in the weight room and on the field… but he’s also concerned about their hearts.

The video shows the student-athletes lining up to step into the tub. After each student agrees to “accept Jesus”, the pastor immerses them in the water as the crowd claps and cheers.

Image via Facebook

Roberts later posted this message on his Facebook page:

So proud of all the kids and grateful to the people who made this happen! Most importantly, I’m humbled and in awe at witnessing the power of Christ move through myself and these young people. Please continue to pray for these kids as this public declaration of their faith will bring judgement to them from some, and praise God as their salvation delivers the grace to save them from the only judgement that matters!

While many praised the coach for arranging the baptism, at least one Washington County community member was unhappy with this  silly stunt and made a complaint to the Freedom from Religion Foundation.

FRFF’s Christopher Line responded by saying:

It’s hard to imagine a more blatant violation of the Establishment Clause than public school students being baptized on school property as part of a school-sponsored event organized by school personnel.

Line sent a letter addressed to Washington County Schools Superintendent John Dickey on May 29 explaining why the football team’s baptism is illegal and how it is in violation of the First Amendment.

Courts have consistently held that it is illegal for a public school to organize, sponsor, or lead religious activity at public high school athletic events, such as football practice. When baptisms take place directly before or after a team football practice, on school property, with coaches’ participation or leadership, any reasonable student would perceive these activities to be unequivocally endorsed by their school.

Line also added that the football player’s baptism was:

Especially problematic in the context of athletics, given the pressure players feel to conform to coaches’ expectations, so as not to disappoint coaches or hurt their standing on the team.

While the FRFF is unsure whether or not it will take legal action at this time, Line says that any Washington County High School student and his or her family has grounds to pursue litigation.

Any student and their family could potentially take legal action over the District’s violation of their constitutional rights.

Image via YouTube

Today I learned that evangelist Franklin Graham, above, has stuck his beak into the affair by congratulating those who participated in the baptism – and slamming the FFRF.

Congratulations to these 18 football players and their coaches from Washington County High School in Chatom, Alabama! These students who had put their faith in Jesus Christ were baptized in a feeding trough while everyone celebrated – well, almost everyone.

He noted:

One person in their small town complained to the atheist Freedom From Religion Foundation and now they’re demanding an investigation about these ‘religious activities.’ I thank God for coaches and teachers across our country who are boldly living out their faith in Christ and care deeply about the lives of their students. God bless them!

Jeremy Dys, Deputy General Counsel for First Liberty Institute described the FFRF’s intervention as “pathetic” and said the “shaming” of high school kids needs to stop.

The Constitution never requires people of faith to hide themselves from public view. In fact, the ability of students and members of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes to freely exercise their faith in public is the very essence of the First Amendment.

"Well, you know what they say about ASSuming things."

‘Love it or leave it’ sign ..."
"Yeah, I picked up on that, too. Well, I did live outside of the US ..."

‘Love it or leave it’ sign ..."
"I'd probably say, "okay," and move on. I really don't care what you believe, and ..."

C of E teaching used against ..."
"CoE is still the official state religion, of which the Queen is the head. Religion ..."

C of E teaching used against ..."

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • zenlike

    They didn’t witness the power of Christ. They witnessed the power of authoritarianism. And they are loving it.

  • Götterdämmerung

    And no doubt if these students refused, they’d be out of the team.

  • johnsoncatman

    I would wager any amount that if the ritual performed had been Mus‌lim (or Satanic!), there would have been widespread outcry within the community (and no doubt from Fu‌cklin Graham).

  • Delta

    Probably even from a Christian denomination that treats women and LGBTQ+ people equally. There would be less outcry but there would still be a lot, I think.

  • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

    Coachie-poo needs to join the ranks of the unemployed, and be on the hook for any legal fees the school district incurs for letting this slip by.

  • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

    A trailer full of prayer rugs and an iPhone app for showing the direction of Mec ca?

    It’d be a hoot watching these same people scream themselves hoarse.

  • HairyEyedWordBombThrower


  • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

    That and the hookworm from running around barefoot on sewage-soaked soil…

  • Die Anyway

    They really don’t understand the problem with coercion.
    “Hey, all of those guys did it voluntarily.”

  • sweeks

    How about The Satanic Temple brings their Baphomet statue to be placed at the 50 yard line?

  • sweeks

    … or used as a tackling dummy. 🙁

  • johnsoncatman

    Especially with teenagers wanting to belong to “the group”.

  • Wisdom, Justice, Love

    Apparently no church was available to perform these baptisms.

    Why are churches failing to do what they claim to do? Sunday school not working? Let’s take over Monday- Friday school.

    And to be clear, this is high school.
    Not 6 and 7 year olds.

  • barriejohn

    I thank God for coaches and teachers across our country who are boldly living out their faith in Christ and care deeply about the lives of their students. God bless them!

    In some respects, Franklin Graham can’t hold a match to his father, but in others he is just as naive and stupid. Do his remarks apply to coaches who are Mormons, Adventists, Christian Scientists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and so on? They all “have faith in Christ”. His kind talk as if all Christians are singing from the same hymn sheet, whereas we know that the different schisms and denominations are constantly at one another’s throats. Graham Snr invited Roman Catholic clergy onto his platform (he had to) and caused an almighty row; you’d think he had made a pact with Lucifer himself (and maybe he had!). When the “crusade” was over, they all reverted to their insularity and petty name-calling. Whatever Graham imagines, it’s impossible to paper over the cracks and ignore the blatant divisions amongst Christians, so how do you ensure that only the “right kind of Christians” enjoy the kind of freedom that he is promoting?

  • Raymond Metcalfe

    just thinking the same thing and I expect if anyone refused the rest of the team would round in them as well

  • Broga

    It would take more than that for the effects on some of the prize specimens. As any attempt to reduce the pollution is seen, under the Trump Nutterdom, as a communist, socialist, atheist etc conspiracy to damage American business watch this space. Things will get worse.

  • Broga

    You mean that the Coach doesn’t pick the team strictly on football ability? How many declared atheists or gay men are in the team?

  • RainbowPhoenix

    I wouldn’t call their baptism freely done when the coach obviously would have ostracized them and forced them off the team if they didn’t go along with it.

  • Guzzman

    Why did the baptisms occur on government property and not at a church, and why were they arranged by the coach, a government employee? Here’s why, because to evangelicals, a captive audience of student players is a mission field that they know is constitutionally off limits, but they don’t care as long as they rack up converts. And the coach, who is an authority figure charged with making decisions about who plays and who gets scholarships, knows full well he can use his power over players to force his religion on them.

    If the coach was pushing any other religion besides Christianity, the community would be rioting in the streets and screaming “Christianity is under attack.”

  • Bezukhov

    You got it all wrong! Coach Roberts didn’t put them in a tub of water to get baptized. Coach Roberts just wanted to see all those virile, young boys in wet tee shirts.

  • Brianna LaPoint

    theres freedom of religion and being coerced to be christian because everyone else in Alabama is. The bible belt is disgusting.

  • Nothing is more spiritually fullfulling or enlightening than being baptized by a HS Football Coach with a Garden Tub from Lowes with Holy Water that came from a funky garden hose. Can we now call this sport Christian Concussion Ball?

  • Lambchopsuey

    Horrifying. That “coach” needs to be locked up – he’s a menace to society.