John Small, Georgia’s East Coweta High School football coach who sparked a big controversy in the school for violating FFRF’s memorandum stating that “coaches can’t participate”, “bow their heads” or commit any other act that would “manifest approval” during student-led prayer speaks up.
Since then, he was banned from praying with the players but recently he revealed that the atheist group’s plan to do away with prayer actually created an incredible reaction from players and students, alike.
“Our students have done a great job and our students took it upon themselves to organize a prayer with our students in the stands before the game,” John said. “Instead of it being 100 players praying, it turned into 400 students praying. That’s their right and we are going to support them in that.”
Coach Small pointed out that what was supposed to be a bad news turned out to be great news. Instead of atheists banning coaches from leading prayers, it actually bent into a much more powerful result.
“I think what is happened with this organization [FFRF], whatever their intent was, you tell teenagers they can’t do something, surely they are going to do it,” he said. “It has really turned into a positive because at the end of the day, we are trying to teach students about leadership and they should be the ones taking the charge on it anyway.”
Small’s controversy surfaced after someone in the community took a video of him praying with the players and FFRF immediately responded.
“FFRF sent a letter to the Coweta County School System warning that it is illegal for public school athletic coaches to further personal religious beliefs by leading their teams in prayer,” the statement read. “Coach-led prayers, FFRF points out, equate to a government advancement and endorsement of religion — a stark violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.”
According to Christian Post, FFRF contended that Small’s act was unlawful as he allegedly promoted prayer, given that he is an employee of the public school district. Thus they commended the district to inform all staff or volunteer staff and employees to remove prayer “before, during or after high school football games.”
After the complaint, a guidance document was spread throughout the school by the school board attorney containing documents stating that even student-led prayers cannot be joined by teachers, coaches and other staffers. The memo also states that any act of a school endorsing religion must be avoided by any staff.
The document — and immediate response of the school — left the FFRF more than jubilant. But football players responded by turning to prayer on their own, as Small noted.
The Christian Post also reported that despite the district’s strict memo outrageously directing on coach-involved prayer, the coach doesn’t have to “flee” during student 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 to Christian Post. “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.”
Source: Faithwire, Christian Post