SHS Field Baptisms Ignite Atheist Group, Coaches Call It Positive. District Says “No Policies Violated”
SPRINGFIELD TENNESSEE: (Smokey Barn News) – Back on August 11th, Smokey Barn News brought you the news of two Springfield Highschool Football players that were baptized after practice on the field. ORIGINAL STORY
According to the school district, they have received no complaints from citizens but the reaction from a group called the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) is pushing the baptism back into the spotlight.
The baptism was held on August 7 on Springfield Highschool’s football field following practice. The minister for the baptism was the team’s Character Coach Chad Diehl. Two players were baptized.
In a social media post, Sudden Service posted photos (Pictured) of the baptism.
“Sudden Service has the privilege of setting up the food trailer at Springfield High School’s Friday night Home games. Yesterday we were able to go to the field and watch 2 of the players be baptized on the field.” #suddenservice #suddensummer #fridaynightlights🏈 #trainthemupinthewaytheyshouldgo
Smokey Barn News has learned that recently the FFRF sent a letter to the school district with concerns about the event being held on school property.
“Coaches at a Tennessee high school must stop promoting and endorsing religion to students, FFRF contends., a post reads on the FFRF’s website.
“A concerned area resident reported that on Aug. 7, Chad Diehl, a minister at Bethlehem Baptist Church and “character coach” for the Springfield High School football team, baptized two players on the school’s football field in front of the rest of the team and coaches. One of the coaches, Jake Buttram, tweeted a photo from the baptism with the message, “Great day for two young men being baptized in front of our team and our field. Better than winning any game or any trophy.” Head Coach Dustin Wilson retweeted a post from Diehl that included photos of the baptism and the message, “What a blessing it was to baptize these young men today in front of their football brothers.”
“It is illegal for coaches to organize or participate in religious activities with students, including baptisms, FFRF reminded the district in a letter to Superintendent Chris Causey. FFRF wrote to ensure that the district ceases promoting and endorsing religion to its students through prayers, religious rituals or a “character coach.”
“It is inappropriate for a public school district to proselytize students by praying with students, baptizing students, or employing an outside religious leader to organize these activities,” writes FFRF Staff Attorney Chris Line. “This is especially problematic in the context of athletics, given the coercive pressure players feel to conform to coaches’ expectations so as not to disappoint coaches or hurt their standing on the team.”
“FFRF is requesting that the district investigate and take the appropriate steps to ensure there will be no further illegal religious events, including any official prayers and team baptisms, during school-sponsored activities. Specifically, coaches and school staff should be instructed that they can neither organize nor participate in religious activities with students while acting in their official capacity. Diehl must no longer be allowed to act as the “character coach” for the team and should no longer be given access to students as part of school-sponsored activities.
“The involvement of a public school coach in baptisms is so over the top as to be ludicrous,” says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “You’d be hard-pressed to cite a display of sectarian religiosity more blatant than this.”
According to their website, the Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national nonprofit with about 30,000 members (according to their website) and several chapters across the country. “FFRF’s purposes are to protect the constitutional principle of separation between church and state, and to educate the public on matters relating to nontheism.”
The school district released the following letter regarding the (FFRF)’s concerns.
“Robertson County Schools has reviewed the incident outlined by FFRF and has determined that neither the school nor school personnel has violated any policies or laws in this matter.
Specifically, the activities that occurred on or about Aug. 7, were student-initiated, student-led, and occurred after the practice session had ended, and after school hours. All participation was voluntary with no requirement for attendance either stated or implied.”
The district added that they have not received a single complaint from citizens about the service.
The staff at Smokey Barn News would like to congratulate the two boys on their decision for Christ.
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