Rick Perry Indicted for Abuse of Power »« Gay People More Likely to Attempt Suicide After Religious Counseling

AHA is ‘Bullying’ Kids By Defending Them Against Forced Proselytizing

The American Humanist Association has sent a letter to a couple Georgia high schools telling them that to stop allowing football coaches to proselytize and pray with their players and a state legislator is now accusing them of “bullying” those kids by protecting them against adults unconstitutional forcing them to participate in religious exercises.

A day after the American Humanist Association threatened to sue a Georgia school district for permitting coaches to use the football program to promote religious acts and messages, Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) lashed out against “liberal atheist interest groups” Wednesday for “trying to bully” high schoolers…

Collins, a chaplain in the U.S. Air Force Reserve and a former Baptist pastor, defended the school’s religious practices in a statement Wednesday, accusing the AHA of bullying students.

“The liberal atheist interest groups trying to bully Chestatee High School kids say they have a reason to believe that expressions of religious freedom are ‘not an isolated event’ in Northeast Georgia,” Collins said. “They’re right. In Hall County and throughout Georgia’s 9th district, we understand and respect the Constitution and cherish our right to worship in our own way.”

Collins continued, “It’s utterly disgusting that while innocent lives are being lost in Iraq and other places at the hands of radical religious terrorists, a bunch of Washington lawyers are finding the time to pick on kids in Northeast Georgia.”

Yeah, that’s about the level of absurdity one would expect in response. Every single individual is, of course, free to worship in their own way. That is precisely why the government, in the guise of a football coach at a public high school, cannot direct their worship in any way. They aren’t picking on kids, they’re protecting them from the imposition of religion by government officials. Every single member of those football teams are free to pray, individually or collectively, before every game if they choose. But they can’t be directed to do so by a teacher or a coach. I don’t know why this is difficult to understand.

Comments

  1. ragingapathy says

    It is permitted, as I understand it, for the students/players to self-organize and pray before or during or after the game. Is it permitted for the coach(es) to join them after they have self-organized a group prayer?

    I live in the next county south of Hall county where Chestatee is; our local high school plays them in football and likely in other sports, too. Without looking into the religious makeup of the school or specifically its football players – I will go out on a limb and say that the number of non-Christians on that team is going to be from 0 to 3. Seriously. This stuff is just taken for granted in those parts of the state.

    It’s entirely possible that some number of players don’t really want to pray at the games, but would feel the risk of being challenged or ostracized if they didn’t. And they probably wouldn’t want to speak out or ask the coach if they could be excused, for fear of the same or of not getting playing time.

    This has been on the local Atlanta news stations, but never in their reports do they point out what is and isn’t Constitutional in this situation, or even say that the athletes are welcome to self-organize a prayer if they want to, and point out that the Constitutional issue is around the coach as a gov’t rep organizing this.

    But that still won’t get around potential reprisals against students who don’t participate, especially now that the issue has gotten so much attention. I feel bad for any students/parents who would support the right of their kid to worship (or not) where and when they want without having to deal with authority figures that might make them regret their decision.

  2. D. C. Sessions says

    I don’t know why this is difficult to understand.

    Paraphrasing Upton Sinclair, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his social status depends upon his not understanding it!”

  3. freehand says

    “It’s utterly disgusting that while innocent lives are being lost in Iraq and other places at the hands of radical religious terrorists, a bunch of Georgia football coaches are wasting time in trivial sports games.”
    .
    “It’s utterly disgusting that while innocent lives are being lost in Iraq and other places at the hands of radical religious terrorists, I watch Married with Children reruns on Netflix.”
    .
    What doesn’t righteous outrage go well with?

  4. Alverant says

    I don’t know why this is difficult to understand.

    It’s called “chrisitian privilege”.

  5. abb3w says

    @2, ragingapathy

    Is it permitted for the coach(es) to join them after they have self-organized a group prayer?

    It would seem very iffy territory; it might be possible, and more easily so at a high school than a middle school, but the coach would probably have to be taking active steps to avoid any appearance of (Lee v Weisman) impermissible coercion.

  6. Michael Heath says

    ragingapathy writes:

    I will go out on a limb and say that the number of non-Christians on that team is going to be from 0 to 3.

    There are millions of Christians who are also secularists. There people do not want their government praying or proselytizing, even when it’s beliefs they share.

  7. briandavis says

    Ragingapathy @2 said:

    I will go out on a limb and say that the number of non-Christians on that team is going to be from 0 to 3.

    Even if the teams are 100% Christian that doesn’t make government led prayer OK. Christians have a long history of disagreeing over the right way to pray and the right thing to pray for.

  8. ragingapathy says

    Michael: There are indeed millions of more secular Christians; they just don’t live in rural north Georgia :-). (actually some do but they keep quiet.)

    Briandavis: I never said having a 100% Christian team would make govt prayer legal or OK. Just that the overwhelming majority of folks in this situation just want to pray and won’t haggle over the terms of the prayer. I’ve been to high school football games around here and this is what dang near everyone wants. And that’s why these folks feel so righteously (even if wrongly) indignant. “Can’t they just let us be” is their mantra.

    I wish I knew if it was someone directly involved who brought the suit.

  9. smrnda says

    The problem with the idea of ‘we all want to pray’ is that it creates a climate where someone who doesn’t want to pray will just avoid football, resulting in unequal access. Swaggering Christian privilege is enough to keep you from even moving to some places if you aren’t a Christian.

    To me, ‘let us be, we all agree’ is no different than a workplace full of white men arguing that their racist and sexist jokes are okay since it’s not offending anybody present. No, but it creates an environment which will not be welcoming, and the lack of concern shows that being welcoming to those who are different is not a priority.

    Which is just what these folks really mean – this is BOG’s COUNTRY and don’t you dare come here, you atheists!

  10. ragingapathy says

    smrnda: I know, I get it. I pretty much don’t talk about religion with folks around here, I sidestep it all the time. I alluded to that climate in my original comment. But you can see what one is up against in areas like that.

    I really think it would be helpful if the news reports included information as to what’s acceptable and not, per court rulings in the past. With at least some folks, it might help them move past the persecution complex into “Well, I guess that’s not so awful”.

Leave a Reply