The Freedom From Religion Foundation has stopped coach-led praying in a Kansas school district.
Following a basketball game on Jan. 31, the Cheylin High School and the Weskan High School boys basketball teams joined together for a prayer at center court. Coaches from both teams reportedly participated in the prayer.
It is illegal for public school athletic coaches to lead their teams in prayer, FFRF pointed out. The U.S. Supreme Court has continually struck down school-sponsored prayer in public schools.
"Public school coaches must refrain not only from leading prayers themselves, but also from participating in students' prayers," FFRF's Patrick O'Reiley Legal Fellow Chris Line wrote to Allaire Homburg, the superintendent of Cheylin Unified School District 103 in Bird City, Kan. "It is unconstitutional for public school employees to participate in the religious activities of their students. Federal courts have held that even a public school coach's silent participation in student prayer circles is unconstitutional."
FFRF asked that the school district immediately investigate and take swift action to stop school-sponsored prayers within its athletic programs.
The school district took FFRF's objection seriously. Homburg recently responded in an email with a firm promise: "You have my assurance that this will not happen again."
FFRF welcomes the pledge.
"It's our purpose to point out constitutional violations to public officials," says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. "It's especially gratifying when they respond so decisively in the right manner."
The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national nonprofit organization with more than 29,000 members across the country, including in Kansas. Its purpose is to protect the constitutional principle of separation between state and church and to educate the public on matters relating to nontheism.