A football coach for the Mooresville High School Blue Devils has been ordered to stop baptizing his players and leading them in prayer. Hal Capps, the football coach, has also been warned that students who object and are “subjected to a prayer by Capps could easily sue the coach and the district on grounds that his or her civil rights were violated.”
According to the Charlotte Observer, the Freedom from Religion Foundation, a Wisconsin-based organization that also reportedly has hundreds of members in North Carolina “contacted the Mooresville Graded School District last fall to request that coach Hal Capps stop the practices” after one of its staff attorneys saw a photo on Twitter of Capps at a baptism with some football players.
“It is a violation of the Constitution for the Mooresville High School football coach to organize, lead, or participate in prayers or other religious proselytizing before, during, or after games and practices,” Patrick Elliott, staff attorney the Freedom from Religion Foundation, reportedly wrote last fall to the school district. “It is well settled that public schools, and by extension public school officials, may not advance or promote religion.”
The group “promotes the constitutional separation of church and state.”
Superintendent Mark Edwards said that the baptism in the Twitter photo, though, “happened at the Charles Mack Citizen Center in downtown Mooresville and wasn’t a team baptism.” Some of the players attend the church where the baptism took place, and that church reportedly invited Capps to be there with his players.
Nevertheless, Edwards reportedly “met with Capps, whom he described as “a very proud Christian,” after the football season and ordered him not to lead students in prayers and baptisms” because it was “violating the constitutional separation of church and state.”
One parent of a Mooresville High School student “who objects to religious endorsements” by Capps prompted the organization to write the district.
“Students have reported that Coach Capps frequently prays with football players at team events and encourages them to go to church and to become baptized,” the letter reportedly says.
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