FFRF ends coach-led prayer in Alabama high school



An Alabama high school football coach will cease the unconstitutional practice of leading his team in prayer prior to games after a letter from FFRF.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation contacted the Autauga County Schools’ counsel earlier this month after it was reported that the Prattville High School football coach regularly led his team in prayer. A video published by the Montgomery Advertiser showed the coach standing over his kneeling players with bowed heads, reciting a prayer.

It is well-established law that it is illegal for public school athletic coaches to lead their teams in prayer, since it constitutes a government endorsement of religion and violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, FFRF’s letter reminded the Autauga County School District.

“[The coach’s] conduct is unconstitutional because he endorses and promotes his religion when acting in his official capacity as a school district employee,” wrote FFRF Patrick O’Reiley Legal Fellow Christopher Line. “Certainly, he represents the school and the team when he acts in his official role as head of the Prattville High School football team.”

FFRF received a response from the school board's counsel assuring the state/church watchdog that the matter had been addressed and that the coach will cease the practice of leading the team in prayer.

“FFRF is very pleased with the district’s prompt response to this issue,” says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “We commend the district on its commitment to upholding the rights of conscience of its students and community members.”

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national nonprofit organization with more than 32,000 members across the country, including over 200 members in Alabama. FFRF’s purposes are to protect the constitutional principle of separation between church and state, and to educate the public on matters relating to nontheism.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, based in Madison, Wis., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational charity, is the nation's largest association of freethinkers (atheists, agnostics), and has been working since 1978 to keep religion and government separate.

FFRF is a non-profit, educational organization. All dues and donations are deductible for income-tax purposes.

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FFRF is a member of the Secular Coalition for America

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