Mobile Menu

No more baptisms as part of Mo. basketball program (March 2024)

FFRF fought successfully to keep baptisms out of the Missouri-based Dixon R-1 School District girls basketball program. FFRF received a report that the Dixon High School and Middle School girls basketball coach baptized a student-athlete at the end of a team practice. An accompanying Facebook post by an account named “Dixon Lady Bulldogs Basketball” confirmed the baptism took place. FFRF wrote to the district to ensure that students weren’t being coerced into baptisms. “Student baptisms are not an appropriate event to include in student basketball practices, which are school-sponsored events,” FFRF Legal Fellow Sammi Lawrence wrote to the district. Margaret A. Hesse, legal representative for the district, informed FFRF that, while the event did take place, the baptism was performed by a former coach of the district, not the present coach. “Nevertheless, the district superintendent has discussed your concerns with both [coaches] and cautioned them against religious coercion when acting as district employees,” Hesse wrote. Additionally, the Dixon Lady Bulldogs Basketball Facebook page now contains a disclaimer informing the public that it is not officially affiliated with the district.