Another Football Coach Proselytizing Players


What is it with the connection between football and conservative Christianity? For that matter, with sports in general? How many times have we seen this happen with football coaches who think their job is to turn their players into Christians? Here’s yet another story:

Mooresville High School’s head football coach has been ordered to stop baptizing players and leading them in prayer.

A national organization that says it promotes the constitutional separation of church and state contacted the Mooresville Graded School District last fall to request that coach Hal Capps stop the practices.

“It is a violation of the Constitution for the Mooresville High School football coach to organize, lead, or participate in prayers or other religious proselytizing before, during, or after games and practices,” Patrick Elliott, staff attorney for the Wisconsin-based nonprofit Freedom from Religion Foundation, wrote last fall to school district attorney Kevin Donaldson.

“It is well settled that public schools, and by extension public school officials, may not advance or promote religion,” Elliott wrote…

The foundation wrote the district after it said it received a complaint from a parent of a Mooresville High School student “who objects to religious endorsements” by Capps.

“Students have reported that Coach Capps frequently prays with football players at team events and encourages them to go to church and to become baptized,” the letter says.

Hope he actually stops.

Comments

  1. Reginald Selkirk says

    What is it with the connection between football and conservative Christianity?/i>

    Brain damage.

    Oh sorry, was that a rhetorical question?

  2. says

    “A national organization that says it promotes the constitutional separation of church and state….”

    Is it just me, or does anyone else read this as having a very condescending, holier-than-thou tone of voice?

  3. Thumper: Token Breeder says

    What is it with the connection between football and conservative Christianity?

    They’re both bastions of the regressive, binary-gender idea of Real Troo Manly Man-ness™. One who believes in the concept is likely to enjoy both of them. It’s not so much that the two are linked as they share some of their fan base.

  4. Chiroptera says

    What is it with the connection between football and conservative Christianity?

    What? From the posts that you write, it appears that conservative Christianity is well represented in all teaching positions in all subjects and in the administrative and elective levels as well. It may be that sports does attract more than its share, but I haven’t seen anything more than anectdotal evidence. Not that real evidence isn’t out there; just that I haven’t been sufficiently motivated to search for it.

    On the other hand, I can believe that the conservative Christian population in general may be more devoted to sports than others. Remember, these are the people who oppose critical thinking and learning about subjects beyond the their preferred mythologies, and favor the rote memorization of “facts” that are consistent with their beliefs. I can certainly believe that take away everything “non-Christian” out of a wide ranging liberal arts education, and sports is almost the only thing left.

  5. outraged says

    I’m not so sure. I suspect it probably has a lot to do with tradition. How many football movies have the coach leading a down and out team in a prayer before the game? How often have we seen that part of the pregame ritual shown on the tele? A big time program doesn’t want camera’s covering the pregame talk about strategy, so they let them in for the pr moment.

    I played in high school and our coach tried it a few times, but it just kind of fizzled out. I don’t think his heart was in it, but he felt obligated to try, since that’s “What coaches do”, I guess. Now if the coach is so inclined, he just does it with a lot more zeal. Most kids involved grow up hearing it from pee wees on, so they don’t see it as wrong. It’s just how it’s done.

  6. oranje says

    Mythical warfare (as sports are frequently a replacement for actual fighting, and I say that as a sports fan) seems to propagate other forms of mythology.

    And it’s easier to accept a loss if you can say it’s not because you played like crap. Conversely, the humility in victory seems to be a holdover from the whole notion of amateurism and sportsmanship that came out of the 19th century English aristocracy.

    Or it could be that in a lot of parts of the country, football is a religion, but they don’t want to be blasphemous about it. Christian rugby, if you will.

  7. tubi says

    Mooresville Graded School District

    What the what? Do they have an Ungraded School District?

    “That’s a nice picture of Jesus on the cross, Jimmy, you can move on to 11th grade. And good luck Friday night!”

  8. Abdul Alhazred says

    Separation of Church and State is a good thing, but separation of Church and Football?

    I’ll settle for separation of Football and State. :)

  9. A Masked Avenger says

    I’ll settle for separation of Football and State. :)

    Are you kidding? Football is the greatest promoter of state worship since ever! It’s the circenses in panem et circenses. Where attendees openly weep during the national anthem, and beat up people who fail to demonstrate adequate nationalistic fervor. Where they sport obvious signs of arousal at overflights by military hardware. Where soldiers in the crowd are hailed as gods.

    I suspect that what makes football fans so overwhelmingly Christian, is also what makes them so intensely jingoistic. Which makes them very valuable to the state just exactly as they are. So you can expect to see lots of pandering, especially by Republicans sporting crosses or Bibles, but you will certainly not see a separation of football and state.

    Can’t embed images, but here they are keeping ‘Murrica safe for ‘Murricans: http://tinyurl.com/nq78nd8

  10. scienceavenger says

    #10 is closest (I write from the Mecca of football, Dallas), It’s a red state (or red area) sport, with red state values. Pity, really, for if one can shake off the cultural biases and ignore the many knuckle-dragging fans, its actually a very interesting and complicated sport. Combat chess if you will. Yes, I said chess, for while some positions allow for players that are dumb as dirt, others require intellect to play properly. Listen to an NFL coach/quarterback call a play – many are longer than this post.

  11. jefferylanam says

    tubi, I think the term “graded school” is an anachronism, left over from the days when there were many one-room schools. Nearly all schools in the US these days are graded. Google found only a few school districts that retain the term.

  12. eric says

    @5:

    it appears that conservative Christianity is well represented in all teaching positions in all subjects and in the administrative and elective levels as well. It may be that sports does attract more than its share, but I haven’t seen anything more than anectdotal evidence

    It’s a difference in quality rather than quantity. Teachers like Freshwater secretly pass out ID pamphlets and secretly pass them back. Coaches like Capps baptize their players. To paraphrase a very old Simpsons episode, one is subliminal advertising while the other is superliminal.

  13. cjcolucci says

    Science Avenger, you might want to look into the sport of Chessboxing. Yes, it’s for real.

  14. says

    I don’t much think of Colorado, particularly Denver, or Washington as red states. Both have exceptions, of course: Colorado Springs, CO, and Spokane, Washington, for example, but both states went for Obama both times.

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