FFRF ensures football coaches keep stop baptizing students; coach resigns (March 17, 2014)

FFRF has halted a pious coach’s practice of proselytizing students in Spokane, Wash. According to the complainant, Rogers High School head football coach Matt Miethe and other coaches had not only been baptizing players at Pentecostal churches, but the assistant coach was leading the team in prayers during “chapel time” and prior to games.

The coaches pressured players to attend church. According to news reports, Coach Miethe “offered players three opportunities to gather for church and encouraged them to attend.”

FFRF Staff Attorney Andrew Seidel sent a letter Dec. 17, explaining why the coaches’ actions are impermissible:

“Even if Miethe is simply suggesting [church] attendance his position as head coach in charge of playing time impregnates any suggestion with force. Playing time leads to scholarships and college; it should be a question of merit only, not religion. No student should be deprived of the opportunity of playing football because they, as a matter of personal conscience, feel unable to participate in a religious ritual or attend church.”

On March 17, the district responded to FFRF’s complaint, “Rogers High School principal Lori Wyborney spoke with the football coach and confirmed activities that she had not been aware of.

“Ms. Wyborney took immediate action to ensure that the activities described ceased. She reminds her coaching and athletics staff as well as her administrative staff of the need to separate the role of school and religion. Additionally, and for unrelated reasons, Coach Matt Miethe resigned his position as head coach for Rogers High School.”

Freedom From Religion Foundation