Freethought Today · April 2015

Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc.

Texas coach strikes out on state/church separation

FFRF Staff Attorney Sam Grover sent a letter of complaint April 2 to the Pittsburg [Texas] Independent School District after learning that Pittsburg High School head baseball coach Tommy Stewart reportedly conducts bible study with players after practice each Wednesday and punishes those who don't attend with 20 minutes of running.

FFRF's complainant reported that Stewart shows religious videos, including the movie "God's Not Dead," and that practice uniforms have "With GOD all things are possible" printed on them.

Before FFRF had even written the district, word of the complainant's objections were reported by local media. Superintendent Judy Pollan sent a message of support for Stewart to staffers, writing, "We are blessed to have a man who feels called to work with our boys as they make the transition into manhood. I WOULD MOST CERTAINLY RATHER BE REPORTED FOR DOING SOMETHING GOOD RATHER THAN DOING SOMETHING BAD."

Pollan warned that FFRF "is the same [group] that caused White Oak and Mt. Vernon problems," and chastised the local complainant for "hid[ing] behind the camera and not show[ing] her face." She concluded her email with a bible quote: "Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity. For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb."

According to Co-President Dan Barker, "FFRF is pleased to report it has experienced no withering as of today and is prepared to alert the police should anyone attempt to 'cut down' its 'workers of iniquity.' "

Barker added, "It shows the extent of the problem that the superintendent, instead of taking corrective measures against the coach, compounds the violation by misusing her public authority to espouse her personal beliefs. This public school district's promotion of religion turns Christians into 'insiders' and the rest of us into 'outsiders,' and that is unacceptable."

Pittsburg's native sons include U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert and Carroll Shelby, auto designer and racing driver.

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