S.C. chaplain let go after FFRF complaint

The University of South Carolina football program has let go of its chaplain after the Freedom From Religion Foundation complained about him last year.

“South Carolina’s football team has parted ways with longtime team chaplain Adrian Despres,” reports The State newspaper, adding that “his position came under some criticism when the Freedom From Religion Foundation sent a letter of complaint in August, requesting the elimination of the chaplaincy in the USC football program.” 

Indeed, FFRF’s report on unconstitutional Christian chaplains in college football programs highlighted the University of South Carolina as one of the major offenders. FFRF’s Co-Presidents Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor wrote to USC President Harris Pastides asking him to abolish the chaplaincy

FFRF, a national state/church watchdog organization, had charged that Despres preached creationism and proselytized public university students while being paid $4,500 by the University of South Carolina during the 2014 football season. He was supposedly a “character coach” hired to counsel players and speak to recruits, but in reality he was paid to preach and recruit new football players.

In truth, he functioned as the team chaplain, asserted FFRF, with then-head coach Steve Spurrier calling him “preacher” or “reverend.” Despres preached a series of sermons called “Christian Man Laws” to players, teaching them to “stop being sissies for Christ.”

South Carolina’s chaplaincy dates back to 1994. Adrian Despres apparently took over in 1999.

After ending Despres’ 16-year run as chaplain, coach Will Muschamp responded to criticism by saying that FFRF has “zero to do with any decisions I make.” 

FFRF Co-President Dan Barker welcomes Despres’ sacking, but urges the University of South Carolina not to continue with spiritual programming.

“Football chaplaincies have no place in public institutions,” he says. “With the departure of Despres, this is the right moment for the University of South Carolina to end its chaplaincy program.”

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is an organization dedicated to the separation of state and church with 23,700 nonreligious members nationally, including almost 200 in South Carolina.

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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