FFRF says U.S. Rep. Byrne all wet in defending school baptisms

Bradley Byrne

The Freedom From Religion Foundation says U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne, R-Ala., is constitutionally all wet in defending public school baptisms in his home state.

Bryne recently posted on Facebook that the state/church watchdog “needs to pack it up and stop forcing their ungodly, un-American views down our throats.”

Bryne was denigrating a complaint letter FFRF sent to Tallapoosa County Schools, Ala., objecting to a coach misusing his authority to proselytize and even baptize student-athletes during football practice.

Bryne also claimed: “Helping bring a person to know Christ should be praised, not attacked. The core values that made our country great are under attack, and we need more leaders who aren’t afraid to stand up for what is right!”

In their letter to Bryne, FFRF Co-Presidents Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor noted that Byrne is wrong on all fronts. Public schools may not inflict religious rituals on students. If a coach were “helping bring students to know Satan,” would Bryne still say such actions should be praised, not attacked?

“The reality is that when you refer to the ‘core values that made our country great,’ you are not referring to religious freedom, which is a crowning achievement of America’s founding. Rather, you are referring to the promotion of your personal religion, which happens to be the same religion that was being promoted by Coach Johnson.”

“It’s difficult to conjure up a more flagrant state/church violation in a public school than Christian baptisms upon a captive audience of students,” comments Gaylor. “Not only was the school district all wet, but so is Byrne.” Gaylor noted that student-athletes should never feel pressured to “pray to play.”

FFRF informed Bryne that he represents a diverse population. Not only are 26 percent of adult Americans today religiously unaffiliated, but 21 percent of Americans born after 1999 identify as atheist or agnostic.

“Your description of a secular government as ‘un-American’ is wrong,” notes FFRF to Bryne. “America invented the separation of state and church, and we ought to be proud of that fact.”

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.

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