Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc. FFRF.org

FFRF ends coach-led prayer in Alabama high school

Vol. 35 No. 9 November 2018
The coach for the Prattville (Ala.) High School football team is shown leading a prayer with his players.                                                                                                                                 

An Alabama high school football coach will cease the unconstitutional practice of leading his team in prayer prior to games after receiving a letter from FFRF.

FFRF contacted the Autauga County Schools’ counsel in early October after it was reported that the Prattville High School football coach regularly led his team in prayer. A video published by the Montgomery Advertiser showed the coach standing over his kneeling players with bowed heads, reciting a prayer.

It is well-established law that it is illegal for public school athletic coaches to lead their teams in prayer, since it constitutes a government endorsement of religion and violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, FFRF’s letter reminded the Autauga County School District.

“[The coach’s] conduct is unconstitutional because he endorses and promotes his religion when acting in his official capacity as a school district employee,” wrote FFRF Patrick O’Reiley Legal Fellow Christopher Line. “Certainly, he represents the school and the team when he acts in his official role as head of the Prattville High School football team.”

FFRF received a response from the school board’s counsel assuring FFRF that the matter had been addressed and that the coach will cease the practice of leading the team in prayer.