California coach-led prayer event stopped (October 3, 2016)

Thanks to FFRF, a California public high school football coach will no longer be hosting “prayer breakfasts” for players.

FFRF received a complaint from a parent of a San Pasqual High School football player that the coach was hosting a “Friday Morning Prayer Breakfast” each week for the athletes at his home. Attendance at these breakfasts was incentivized with free food and speeches from former NFL players.

In a letter sent on Sept. 21, FFRF Legal Fellow Madeline Ziegler informed Superintendent Steve Boyle that public school athletic coaches who lead their teams in prayer send a message of school endorsement of certain religious practices.

“It is no defense that students voluntarily participate in the prayer breakfast. The potential for subtle coercion is extremely high in the context of high school sports,” wrote Ziegler. “Players feel immense pressure to conform to what coaches expect of them so as not to affect their playing time or otherwise lose favor with the coaches.”

Boyle responded on Oct. 3 that, after an investigation on the coach, the school district has directed that no coach or staff member should host religious events.

Freedom From Religion Foundation