Sep 8, 2009

Above and Beyond a Pre-Game Prayer

A Kentucky high school coach takes the football team on a field trip to his church, gets half of them baptised. Surprisingly, some parents have a problem with it.

A trip led by the head football coach at Breckinridge County High School has a couple folks upset. The coach took about 20 players on a school bus late last month to his church, where nearly half of them were baptized. I am guessing that these players were so bad, only the magical powers of jesus could improve their chances?

Michelle Ammons said her 16-year-old son was baptized without her knowledge and consent, and she is upset (for some reason) that a public school bus was used to take players to a church service — and that the school district's superintendent was there and did not object.

"Nobody should push their faith on anybody else," said Michelle Ammons, whose son, Robert Coffey, said Coach Scott Mooney told him and other players that the Aug. 26 outing would include only a motivational speaker and a free steak dinner. Oh, well, sh*t, I'd get baptized for a free steak!

"He said it would bring the team together," Robert, a sophomore, said in an interview. Yes, for all eternity.

The Superintendent Janet Meeks, who is a member of the church and witnessed the baptisms, said she thinks the trip was proper because attendance was not required, and another coach paid for the gas. Oh, well, at least tax dollars weren't spent on gas. But had there been a fender bender with school property - I think more people would have been upset.

Meeks said parents weren't given permission slips to sign but knew the event would include a church service, if not specifically a baptism. She said eight or nine players came forward and were baptized.

David Friedman, general counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky, said in an interview that the trip would appear to violate Supreme Court edicts on the separation of church and state — even if it was voluntary and the school district didn't pay for the fuel. So much for that plan.

"If players want to attend the coach's church and get baptized, that's great," Friedman said. But a coach cannot solicit player attendance at school, he said, noting, "Coaches have great power and persuasion by virtue of their position, and they have to stay neutral."

Ammons, who lives in Big Spring, said that she is a Baptist but her husband, Danny, is Catholic, and that both feel like their son should wait until he is 18 to make important decisions on religion.

"We felt he was brainwashed," she said.

She said she was prepared to drop the matter until she found out that Meeks attended the service. She said she consulted a lawyer in Elizabethtown but hasn't decided what action she will take.

"They have no right to take my son on a school bus across county lines to be a church to be baptized," she said.


Epsilon said...

Christians in America often don't understand the problem with this sort of thing because they're under the delusion that they're doing some sort of good deed, and who would object to that?

The issue is quite simple. No public taxpayer money should ever be used to support any religious activities, because every taxpayer has the freedom to participate in any religion he/she prefers, or no religion at all, and that taxpayer's money must NEVER be used to promote a religion against his/her wishes.

That's it. Any business, organization, entity, system, group, building, street, or corner that exists because of tax dollars must be absolutely neutral on religion.

Do people have the right to peacefully protest? Of course. But if the laws are properly upheld, those people will lose.

annamoris said...

I think a good litmus test for such cases is to swap Christianity out for Islam. That is, ask those parents who see no problem with this if they would have a problem with the coach taking the team to a mosque for prayers.