FFRF calls on Oklahoma baseball coach/superintendent to cease leading school prayers

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The Freedom From Religion Foundation is spotlighting a proselytizing baseball coach/superintendent in an Oklahoma high school. 

A concerned local resident reported that the Sentinel High School baseball team coach has been praying with his team.

It is well established law that public school athletic coaches may not lead their teams in prayer. The Supreme Court has continually struck down school-sponsored prayer in public schools because it constitutes a government advancement and endorsement of religion, which violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, FFRF reminds Sentinel Public Schools.

“Your conduct is unconstitutional because you are endorsing and promoting religion while acting in your official capacity as a school district employee,” writes FFRF Legal Fellow Christopher Line in his letter to Superintendent Jason Goostree. “This violation is compounded by the fact that you are not only the baseball coach, but also the head administrator of the entire district. Therefore, you cannot lead the team in prayer and you cannot organize or advocate for students to lead team prayer.”

The Freedom From Religion Foundation it asking that the coach immediately stop leading or participating in prayer with the baseball team and ensure that there are no staff-led prayers occurring within any district athletic programs.

“When public school coaches lead or engage in prayer with their team, they are sending a message to nonreligious players that they are outsiders within their own community,” says FFRF Co-President Dan Barker. “It is a violation of the rights of the players and their parents, the ones who ought to be responsible for their religious upbringing.”

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national nonprofit organization with more than 32,000 members across the country, including in Oklahoma. 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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