The Freedom From Religion Foundation is alarmed about a public school coach in Kentucky imposing his religion on his players.
A concerned parent has informed FFRF that Daniel Montgomery, a soccer coach with the Boyle County Schools District in Danville, Ky., has announced he will be guiding the team in prayer before each game.
It is illegal for public school athletic coaches to lead their teams in prayer, FFRF reminds the school district.
"The Supreme Court has continually struck down school-sponsored prayer in public schools," FFRF Managing Staff Attorney Rebecca Markert writes to Superintendent Mike Lafavers. "Public school coaches must refrain from not only leading prayers themselves, but also participating in students' prayers. It is unconstitutional for public school employees to participate in the religious activities of their students."
Coach Montgomery's conduct is unconstitutional because he is endorsing and promoting his religion in his official capacity as a school district employee, FFRF emphasizes to the school district. He represents the school and the team when he acts in his role as a public school soccer coach. Therefore, he cannot lead his team in prayer. When a public school employee performing in an official position organizes and advocates for team prayer, he effectively endorses religion on the school district's behalf.
"More than one-third of the youth in this country are nonbelievers and non-Christians," says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. "When a public school coach engages in a Christian prayer, young players who don't adhere to that religion are either forced to join in or run the risk of offending their mentor and being stigmatized."
FFRF is asking that the Boyle County Schools District immediately conduct an investigation into the complaint and take swift action to stop any and all violations taking place in the district.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national nonprofit dedicated to the separation of state and church, with 27,000 nontheistic members and chapters all over the country, including more than 200 and a chapter in Kentucky.