Atheists with the Freedom From Religion Foundation are outraged that a school football team coach allowed some of his team players to be baptized.
No one would have said anything, and no cared about the baptisms until a “concerned citizen” complained about them. Not long after that concerned citizen registered his complaint, the FFRF sent their letter of rebuke to the school district. (I wonder if that “concerned citizen” was the FFRF.) They’re offended that this particular school football team hasn’t embraced humanism as its religion of choice.
Mark Heaton, the football team’s head coach and the school’s athletic director, told the Franklin County Times that several students on the football team had asked to be baptized after one of the team’s captains, Austin Kitterman, had suffered life-threatening injuries in a four-wheeler accident only a few days before.
“This was something that the students came to me and told me they wanted to do,” Heaton said, according to the report.
“Neither of these kids had a home church, and they had accepted Christ and wanted to be baptized in front of their teammates who also shared their faith and wanted to be there to support them,” he added.
After Kitterman’s accident, Russellville High School students had held a prayer vigil in the school’s football stadium for their friend as he fought for his life, Heaton said.
Several days later, two kids on the football team asked to be baptized.
“This situation brought up a lot of questions for these kids who were searching for something to believe in and something to fill that void they were feeling,” Heaton told the Franklin County Times. “All that happened just a few days before these players asked to be baptized, so that was the context that all this was taking place in.”
After receiving a call from a “concerned local resident” about the baptisms, FFRF sent a letter of complaint to Franklin City Schools on Oct. 22, claiming that the baptisms were “constitutional violations” that directly contradicted the “constitutional principal of separation between state and church.”
In a news release posted on the group’s website, FFRF Staff Attorney Andrew Seidel claimed that “[s]uch sponsorship of religion is especially problematic in the context of athletics, given the pressure players feel to conform to what coaches expect of them so as not to affect their playing time or lose favor with the coaches.”
It’s not that the FFRF want no religion. It’s that they want their religion endorsed and taught in government schools.