Coach ‘Breaks The Law,’ Suspended for Praying With Team

A coach for a prep school in Arizona has been suspended for praying with his team during last week’s homecoming game. He was told it was “against the law.”

Tom Brittain, the head varsity coach for Tempe Preparatory Academy–a state-funded charter school–found himself suspended after the “offensive” praying.

The coach was told to keep the praying off the field, but apparently he didn’t feel disposed to have his constitutional right trod upon by school administrators.

His boss, headmaster David Baum told the media, “He is a man who likes to pray and I don’t object to that. Just, he can’t do that with our students. That’s the only prohibition.”

Then Baum claimed it was he, rather than the coach, who was trying to “protect” the Constitution.

“He (Brittain) directed students to lead a prayer and he joined the students in that prayer and did so in view of everyone,” Baum claimed. “I think I preserved the religious freedom of our students, who have to have the liberty to be able to practice or not practice their religion on our campus, without interference by adults.”

So, how did the coach somehow force people to pray? He didn’t of course.

Some of the students and their parents were not appreciative of Baum’s lame claims to being a protector of the Constitution, though.

“I think it’s outrageous,” parent Keith Wibel said. “Ray Rice gets two games for cold-cocking his fiancé and Tom Brittain gets two games for praying.”

Naturally, some parents support the suspension. But it seems that those criticizing the coach are distinctly in the minority.

The fact is, it is “freedom of religion,” not freedom from it.

CBS 5 – KPHO

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  • jim_m

    Had he sexually assaulted the students the NEA would be defending him.

  • JWH
    • Hank_M

      Yeah, but written by the editor of Friendly Atheist so I dunno…

      • JWH

        I also posted a link to this story on the FA Web site. Of course, the FA commentary was nine days ago, so nobody will probably see the Wizbang piece.

  • Commander_Chico

    School was right. Clear Establishment clause violation.

    The problem is these fundies in leadership positions want to impose their beliefs on everyone else.

    • ohio granny

      No it isn’t. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion NOR THE FREE EXERCISE THEREOF. Sounds pretty plain to me.

      • Commander_Chico

        If you’re the boss, and you’re “leading” group prayers, you’re preventing the “free exercise” of your subordinates’ religious belief (or non-belief).

        What would you say if the coach was a Muslim and was leading the team into prayers for Allah?

        • Mjolnir

          Sounds like a bunch of anti-religious fear-mongering.
          He didn’t lead the prayers, he joined in with the students who were already praying.
          Perhaps you’re just projecting onto Christians how you treat people you disagree with or whose religion you dislike?

    • Brett Buck

      How does this establish a state religion. Oh, that’s right, it doesn’t and this is another pointless parroting of something you read but don’t understand.

      As in “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”.

      So, please tell me which law Congress made that led to this case? How is anyone prohibited by the Federal Government from free exercise of religion? The answer is, absolutely none and your argument and/or reading comprehension is wrong.

      Brett

  • Brian Westley

    The fact is, it is “freedom of religion,” not freedom from it.

    The fact is, neither “freedom of religion” nor “freedom from religion” appear literally in the constitution.

    • Jwb10001

      True but it does say this:

      The First Amendment (Amendment I) to the United States Constitution prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion.

      Which would sort of seem to say the same thing.

      People are quick to jump on the first part not so quick to defend the 2ond. I’m not religious and would not participate in a pre game prayer which is my right. I would also not try to claim that others doing so was against the law, clearly it is not.

      • Brian Westley

        The First Amendment (Amendment I) to the United States Constitution prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion.

        No, it doesn’t say that, either. It says this:

        “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

        I’m not religious and would not participate in a pre game prayer which is my right. I would also not try to claim that others doing so was against the law, clearly it is not.

        No, clearly it is. Read Santa Fe Independent School Dist. v. Doe (2000)

        Public school officials do not have the authority to lead prayers; it infringes on the religious rights of students.

        • Jwb10001

          I know there is more to the first amendment than I posted, thanks for assuming I’m stupid. The posting was about freedom of religion so please forgive my abridged posting of the 1st amendment. And thanks for being nit picky. Aren’t you the guy not long ago that said there is a separation of church and state, you are aware that also is not in the constitution? What is it about the free exercise of religion that bothers people so, why can’t you just look away, that’s what people that oppose same sex marrige are expected to do.

          • Brian Westley

            The posting was about freedom of religion so please forgive my abridged posting of the 1st amendment.

            The way you wrote it implied it was a direct quote: “but it does say this:”

            Aren’t you the guy not long ago that said there is a separation of church and state, you are aware that also is not in the constitution?

            Of course I know that.

            What is it about the free exercise of religion that bothers people so,

            This isn’t a free exercise case. The coach was imposing his religion on students. He was violating their religious rights.

            why can’t you just look away

            Some people aren’t doormats when it comes to first amendment rights.

          • Jwb10001

            Where did you get the coach was imposing his religion on anyone? That seems quiet the stretch to me. Looks more like he didn’t stand in the way. Ah yes you’re also the guy that won’t be a door mat. Those bad old religious folks forcing people to be religious and pray and stuff, there sure is a lot of that going around. Enjoy your cursade, brother.

          • Brian Westley

            Where did you get the coach was imposing his religion on anyone?

            “A coach for a prep school in Arizona has been suspended for praying with his team”

            Right there. Look up “coercion” and consider how the guy who decides who plays and who sits on the bench might regard someone who refuses to pray with him.

          • Jwb10001

            OK if the coach did what you claim he could do, fine fire him, if he doesn’t what then, he gets suspended because he might coerce?

          • Brian Westley

            No, what he already did was coercion. He gets suspended and a warning not to do it again. If he keeps doing it, fire him.

          • JWH

            There are two elements to it:

            First (if I’m reading the coverage right) the coach, rather than lead the prayer himself, picked a student volunteer to lead a prayer. Second, the coach joined in with the prayers. I think you can make the case that both actions have a coercive effect.

            If there’s going to be prayer, it ought to be entirely student-led — that is, the students do it themselves, without the coach prompting them — and the coach ought to stand back and not join them. If the students particularly feel the need to have others watch them pray, they can even do it on the field at the beginning of the game.

          • JWH

            This bit of reportage makes me think the suspension is warranted:

            Other TPA parents support Baum’s decision and said Brittain has been pushing his players to pray for years.

            “The school is not a religious school,” said John Hicks. “It’s a regular school. So, it’s against the bylaws to in order for him to pray. It’s not that he’s a bad coach. But, you have to go by the bylaws in anything that you do.”

            (Source: http://www.wfsb.com/story/26582661/valley-high-school-football-coach-suspended-for-praying-with-players)

            Baum said he recently suspended his head varsity football coach for twogames because Brittain violated school policy after a recent, hard-won game in Show Low.

            “He (Brittain) directed students to lead a prayer and he joined the students in that prayer and did so in view of everyone,” said Baum. “I think I preserved the religious freedom of our students, who have to have the liberty to be able to practice or not practice their religion on our campus, without interference by adults.”

            (Source: http://www.kpho.com/story/26582661/valley-high-school-football-coach-suspended-for-praying-with-players)

            If the a) the coach generally pushes students to pray at games; and b) he specifically directed students to lead prayers at the recent game, then, yes, he’s crossed the line into coercion and/or a state endorsement of religion.

          • Jwb10001

            So the coach is not entitled to the free exercise of religion? Where is that in the constitution?

          • JWH

            When the coach is acting in his capacity as the coach, he, like any employee in that position, is presumed to be acting for his employer. In this case, that employer is the state.

          • JWH

            If this is an honest question, rather than a rhetorical ploy, I’d point you to this Third Circuit decision.

            http://www2.ca3.uscourts.gov/opinarch/063890p.pdf

          • ohio granny

            Its one of those invisible things liberals manage to find in the constitution.

          • The coach wasn’t by militant atheists like this Westley character don;t care about fats.

          • Brian Westley

            Waller? Domino? Minnesota?

          • Zeke

            Polyunsaturated? Trans?
            No, not Trans, reminds Christians of those icky transgender folks.

          • ohio granny

            Because that is the only way they can make the coach stop. Liberals lie. That is what they do.

        • ohio granny

          By disallowing public school officials to lead or participate in prayers it does absolutely interfere with their religious rights as long as everyone is free to decide whether to participate or not. By claiming it is illegal for a school official to participate in or lead a prayer is big lie liberals and the freedom from religion crowd always spout and liberals courts agree with.

          • Brian Westley

            By disallowing public school officials to lead or participate in prayers it does absolutely interfere with their religious rights as long as everyone is free to decide whether to participate or not.

            Completely wrong. Check with the courts.

  • Hank_M

    Strange times. Islamic violence is increasing world-wide and we clamp down on Christians.

    • jim_m

      Muslims denounce America and its influence on the rest of the world, so does the left. Muslims believe that the US needs to be taught a lesson for its arrogance, so does the left. There is much between today’s left and radical islam that they agree upon. What the left doesn’t get is that the islamists (correctly) view the lefties as the Americans that need to have their heads cut off. The left thinks that they can somehow avoid that consequence.

    • LiberalNightmare

      Its safer to clamp down on the christians.

      • You don’t have to worry about THEM beheading you.

    • Anonymouse

      Not just Christianity, the teacher’s actions were against the freedom of religion, ALL religion. the fact that the book in question was a Bible is of little consequence.

  • Brucehenry

    When I was a little kid teacher-led prayer in school was still legal and practiced. We said The Lord’s Prayer every day.

    As the only (as far as I knew) Catholic kid in my class, my version of the Lord’s Prayer omitted that last bit — “for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory” etc etc. That phrase was added by the scholars who put together the King James Version of the Bible as a little Stuartian propaganda btw.

    Anyway, I used to clam up when we got to that part, but my teacher a couple of times spotted me and called me out, told me to say “the whole thing.” Once or twice fellow students ratted me out or ragged me about it. I DEFINITELY felt coerced to do something that was “against my religion.” Eight-year olds can get pretty upset about shit like that. I can only imagine what my classmate Neil Berkowitz was going through.

    I believe that stories like mine were exactly what SCOTUS was trying to prevent in the ruling that banned teacher-led prayer. This coach is doing the same thing. He should definitely be prevented from doing it again and if he persists should be fired. Let him teach at a “Christian Academy” if he insists his charges must pray in public as a group.

  • Vagabond661

    “Just, he can’t do that with our students.”

    That is just a very odd statement.