(LibertySociety.com) – A high school football coach in Georgia was fired just weeks after baptizing 20 of the school’s players after practice concluded on October 23. The Tattnall County Board of Education released a statement following the firing of Isaac Ferrell, claiming that the decision was related to “the outcome of an investigation into an incident that occurred” after a November 3 game. The board declined to comment further but said that the school would be seeking another coach “that aligned with the best interests of students.”
The controversy behind the baptisms on school grounds started when the football team’s Facebook page shared a video of Ferrell baptizing one of the players. The Freedom From Religion Foundation was notified by a member of the community about the baptisms. An attorney from the foundation contacted the school’s Superintendent Kristen Waters and questioned the constitutionality of Ferrell’s actions. He called for an investigation into the matter. The foundation maintains that children should not be indoctrinated with religion at school.
One parent of a player who was baptized told WSAV Savannah that she was proud of her son for deciding to be baptized on his own. She said that it looked like all of the players were excited to be a part of it, based on the video that she saw. The foundation’s attorney offered a follow-up comment after Ferrell’s firing, expressing gratitude that the school was looking for a new coach.
Ferrell’s case is just one example of religious intertwining in school functions. On November 16, the Saucon Valley School District in Pennsylvania settled a lawsuit with The Satanic Temple after it stopped an After School Satan Club from meeting on school premises. The plaintiffs argued that the school discriminated against the club and denied accommodations that it had provided to other groups. The school had previously overturned the decision and said it would allow the group to meet, but then reversed course.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed the lawsuit, which resulted in the school agreeing to pay $200,000 in attorneys’ fees. As of now, the group is not meeting at the school but plans to resume if another religious group at the school starts meeting again.
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