An Oklahoma school district’s football program will not be used for proselytizing, thanks to the Freedom From Religion Foundation.
A concerned community member informed the state/church watchdog that football coaches in the Elgin Public Schools system had been letting outside adults promote religion to district students and had been boosting it on the district’s official Facebook page. One such post read, “Thank You! SWOK FCA — Richy Large and FBC Marlow Pastor Jordy McKaskle on sharing two of the greatest things in the world … watermelon and the Love and Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
It is well settled that public schools may not advance or promote religion, FFRF reminded the school district.
“Courts have consistently held that it is illegal for a public school to include religious content in school events, including events taking place outside of the regular school day,” FFRF Staff Attorney Christopher Line wrote to Superintendent Nathaniel Meraz. “Allowing representatives of religious groups regular, or even one-time, access during a school activity to proselytize and recruit students for religious activities is a violation of the Establishment Clause.”
FFRF asked the district to stop promoting religion during football games and on the official Facebook page, asserting that “the Facebook post should be removed, and the district should refrain from endorsing religion on its official social media pages in the future.”
FFRF’s constitutional coaching made Elgin officials play by the rules.
“That post has been removed,” Meraz recently responded via email. “The actions have been addressed.”
FFRF is always pleased to be providing school districts the correct playbook.
“I’m glad the district punted this blatant endorsement of religion,” says Annie Laurie Gaylor, FFRF co-president.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national nonprofit organization with more than 35,000 members across the country, including in Oklahoma. Its purposes are to protect the constitutional principle of separation between state and church, and to educate the public on matters relating to nontheism.