They thought they had won. The atheist organization Freedom From Religion Foundation thought they were victorious against the Christian high school coach from Georgia, who wanted to bring God to the school by praying before football games. At first, they had effectively silenced him, but their actions against the coach now seem to have backfired, according to Christian Headlines.
The FFRF first sent a letter to the Coweta County School System, which made them aware that the coach's activity supposedly violated the U.S. Constitution. According to the atheist group, public school officials are not allowed to defend their personal beliefs, particularly their religious faith.
The school district eventually complied with the FFRF's demands. They told the coach that he was no longer allowed to participate in any student-initiated or student-led prayer. They also reiterated that no form of worship in public was allowed for officials in public.
According to the school district, "representatives of the school cannot participate in any student-initiated/student-led prayer or other worship while acting in their official capacity. For instance, they cannot join hands, bow their heads, take a knee or commit another act that otherwise manifests approval with the students’ religious exercise, at least where it would be perceived by a reasonable observer to display government endorsement of religion.”
But students haven't been listening to the school district. Rather, they have doubled down on their prayer effort. Since the FFRF cannot do anything if the students lead themselves in prayer, the students have decided to pray themselves. Although the players aren't praying alongside their coach, an even larger number of students have decided to pray instead.
Thus, beforehand the coach would leave 100 players in prayer. Now, more than 400 students are leading themselves in prayer, and there is nothing that the school district or FFRF can do about it.
According to the Christian Post, John Small, the head coach at East Coweta High School, had claimed that he is in no way at odds with the Coweta County School system or the school board after he was ordered to stop praying. He has also stated that both he and other coaches are not, despite the statement issued by the school district, being forced to completely separate themselves from any and all student-led prayer.
"We are not allowed to be in the middle of it but we have a right to be there with our players. We don't have to flee [the scene]," Small explained. "If my head is bowed, nobody can tell me what I am thinking. I am not leading the prayer. I am there supporting my kids. Whether I am praying or not, nobody can say I am or I ain't."
The atheist group is surely outraged that they are unable to stop this group of high school students from praying. And they are surely angry that they were unable to stop the effort of this Christian football coach to bring God to his school.
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