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CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) – In the letter, the organization says coaches shouldn’t use an injury to engage students in a religious exercise.

Hamilton County has replied saying that a local youth pastor was asked to pray for the young man and not a school official.

Rebecca Markert from the Freedom From Foundaion said, “The problem is that the letter also indicates that coaches from both of the teams also participated in the religious activity, they bowed their heads, they took knees that is also not allowed. It’s not just about leading in the prayer its also participating in the religious exercises.”

The Freedom from Religion Foundation will wait to see if the changes have been made in the next football season before any additional action is made.


Chattanooga, Tenn. (WDEF) — The Freedom From Religion Foundation is expressing concern to Hamilton County Schools, over prayer at a school football game.

The organization sent a letter to school board attorney Scott Bennett on Friday, calling it an “unconstitutional coach-led prayer.”

Some players and coaches from both Central and East Ridge High Schools joined together in a prayer circle, September 9th, after a player was injured during the game.

In the letter, the organization says coaches shouldn’t use an injury to engage students in a religious exercise.

A school district spokesperson sent us a statement saying: “Since this is the weekend, no one has had the opportunity to speak with the concerned parties. We are investigating the allegation, but Hamilton County Department of Education does thorough training on religious issues. “If necessary, we will implement further training.”

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Comment on this Story

  • Chris Clayton

    Given the long list of Supreme Court cases going back to 1963 banning teacher led prayers in public schools, let’s hope this was a one-time mistake that will not occur in the future. Even professional teams don’t huddle in group prayer when a player is hurt. Say prayers silently, to yourself, and move on.

    • 0pus

      Fk you, you smelly atheist trash.

      • George T

        0pus: Instead of attacking the person that you disagree with, why not try responding like an adult?

    • Marsha

      If a kid ask for prayer it is our job as parents,teachers,couches and principals to pray with our children if that is what we feel we need to do and if someone doesn’t like it then they do not have to listen or participate just because one person doesn’t want a hurt child to be prayed for and let the Lord help them doesn’t mean others should not be allowed to do it. I admire all the staff,the kids and the pastor for doing what was right for that kid, no matter who it made upset. You all done the right thing and you should be proud of yourselves

      • George T

        Masha: Incorrect. Teachers and coaches agree to be bound by The Establishment Clause while acting as agents of our government. Our government isn’t permitted to endorse or advance a religion.

        See Engel v Vitale and Wallace v Jaffree for further details.

    • Sea Bass

      Prayer is a protected right as is freedom of speech, they can pray as Loud as they wish and apparently need to include your name in those prayers.

      • Chris Clayton

        From Wikipedia “Abington School District v. Schempp, 374 U.S. 203 (1963), was a United States Supreme Court case in which the Court decided 8–1 in favor of the respondent, Edward Schempp, and declared school-sponsored Bible reading in public schools in the United States to be unconstitutional.” Clearly, very clearly, and 8-1 ruling states there are limits. if you fail to accept the 8-1 ruling of the Supreme Court, then we have nothing more to discuss.

        • Sea Bass

          Apparently there isn’t anything to discuss because reading and understanding are missing I see. Please show me in the article where school sponsored Bible reading is even mentioned. Talk about grasping for straws, sheesh.

          • George T

            Sea Bass: See also Engel v Vitale and Wallace v Jaffree.

            All three cases are generally applicable as the coach is an agent of our government, just like any other teacher. Our government isn’t permitted to endorse or advance one religion. Representatives agree to this conduct restriction. If they don’t, they shouldn’t agree to act as government representatives.

  • George T

    Coaches are agents of the government. Our government is prohibited from endorsing or advancing a religion by The Establishment Clause. By extension, agents of the government (like these coaches) are prohibited by The Establishment Clause.

    See Engel v Vitale and Wallace v Jaffree for more information.

  • Pray at home, hypocrites.
    — Matthew 6:5-6

  • Co Morrow

    our constitution gives us freedom of religion..if they want to pray, let them pray and all u haters shut up and go on ur way..nobody cares what u think..this country was founded as one nation under God. where along the way someone decided they to change that.. keep pushing God out of this country and see what happens..There is nothing wrong with people praying..those that were participating was not forcing anyone else to do so..unlike others who want to force their way of thinking by not allowing others to do so..Mind ur own business and keep ur negative thoughts to ur self. they did no harm to anyone..praise the Lord and Glory to God Almighty..God is good all the time…

    • George T

      Co Morrow: Our Constitution *recognizes* our freedom of religion. In the same sentence it prohibits our government from favoring any religion.

      this country was founded as one nation under God

      Incorrect. This country was founded E PLURIBUS UNUM… from many, one. From many states, backgrounds, and beliefs… we are one.

      There is nothing wrong with people praying

      Correct. Coaches agree to prohibitions and conduct restrictions like not endorsing or advancing any religion. They are agents of the government. Would you feel comfortable if coaches, police officers, or members of the military started encouraging students to worship Satan or bow towards Mecca?