Indiana’s Reitz High School football Coach Andy Hape has been under scrutiny for something that would have been seen as a good Christian thing before morals and God was seen as too controversial for schools. The ‘questionable act’ that has an Athiest group up in arms is of course prayer. The coach was seen bowing his head and praying with the football players in a photo that was published in a Courier & Press Westside Edition. The headline for the article also stated that he was praying with the players after a win.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) received a complaint about this photo and immediately felt the need to take action against the coach. The Freedom From Religion Foundation’s purpose is “to promote the constitutional principle of separation of state and church, and to educate the public on matters relating to nontheism.” Basically, it is a group that has the sole purpose of preventing, in this case, any form of Christianity being uttered by a school official.
The FFRF sent a letter to school warning them that they were breaking the law and intend to investigate the incident further.
If you think about it it wasn’t any of the players or the people at the game that were offended by the celebratory prayer but no instead some Spiteful outsider decided he/she knew best.
The Superintendent Kopitch commented on the matter:
”I’ve never had anybody come to me,” Kopatich said. “I’ve never had any community member, I’ve never had any parent, I’ve never had anyone come to me and tell me they had a concern.”
It’s a tough situation, according to Kopatich.
“I don’t mind saying that I’m a Christian,” he said. “More than anything else, I was sort of saddened because I think in leadership roles there are all types of role models. I just think it’s sad that it’s happening.”
The Story is still developing and hopefully will resolve itself with students leading the prayers instead because they are still allowed to pray at the school. These are the times we are living in where a prayer can be seen as a negative.
“Staff members shall not use prayer, religious readings, or religious symbols as a devotional exercise or in an act of worship or celebration,” the policy states. “No matter how well intended, either official or unofficial sponsorship of religiously-oriented activities by the school are offensive to some and supplant activities which should be exclusive province of individual religious groups, churches, private organizations or the family.”
Supt. Dave Smith told television station:
“Our coach was there supporting his players. That’s what we expect and that’s what we love about our coaches and all of our employees,” Smith said. “They have every right to stand behind our employees, our students and our student athletes.”
Jeremy Dys, an attorney with First Liberty Institute, told me what happened on that football field was perfectly legal.
“The kids have a First Amendment right to lay hands on their coach and pray for him,” Dys told me. “The government cannot stop the students’ religious expression.”
And should the school district investigation determine the coach did in fact break school policy – they could face legal action from First Liberty Institute.
“If the school district prohibits the students’ exercise of religion, we stand ready to represent these players free of charge,” Dys Told me.