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

Georgia school to cease coach-led prayer

Vol. 35 No. 9 November 2018

FFRF has received confirmation that coach-led prayer will not continue in a Georgia public school system.

FFRF Legal Fellow Chris Line sent a letter to the district in September, after a concerned area resident reported that Dawson County High School employed a “character coach” to regularly pray with its football team.

A video posted on Facebook on Sept. 7 showed the character coach, Pastor Russell Davis from Etowah Church, leading the football team and several young children in prayer in what appears to be the school locker room.

“The Word says when they compelled him to carry the cross, and then Jesus went to the hill and he won the victory on the cross. Your goal tonight is not to die on the cross. It’s not to die on the field of battle,” Davis says in the video. “We’re calling you tonight to carry their cross.”

“Let’s pray together, Lord, we thank you, God, for another day,” Davis continues. “We thank you for an opportunity to play the game that we call football. Father, I pray that everything tonight will be for your glory.” He then leads the team in the Lord’s Prayer.

In its letter, FFRF reminded the school that it is well-settled law that a school cannot appoint or employ a chaplain, seek out a spiritual leader for students or agree to have a volunteer teach other people’s children that character centers on religious belief. This constitutes a public school endorsement of religion, a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

On Oct. 15, FFRF received a response from the district’s attorney assuring FFRF that coach or “character coach”-led prayer will no longer occur in Dawson County Schools.