"Christian worship seems interwoven into Clemson’s football program," wrote FFRF Staff Attorney Patrick Elliott. "We are concerned that this commingling of religion and athletics results, not from student initiative, but rather from the attitudes and unconstitutional behaviors of the coaching staff."
Note: FFRF had only 155 members in South Carolina in April, and perhaps fewer since the story broke.
• In 2011, coach William "Dabo" Swinney personally invited James Trapp to become team chaplain for the Tigers.Now I don't like Clemson much after the pasting they put on my team last year, but I am warming up to their football coach. On August 23, 2014, Newsobserver.com told us a little more from the coach's point of view,
That violates the Constitution and Clemson's own "misguided and legally dubious 'Guidelines For Athletic Team Chaplains,' ” Elliott noted. The guidelines say student groups select their choice for team chaplain and then request the coach's approval. No records were provided that show a student organization selected a chaplain.
• Trapp was regularly given access to the entire team in between drills for bible study.
FFRF says that by granting Trapp such access, Swinney shows "preference for religion over nonreligion, alienates those players who don’t believe as he does, and creates a culture of religious coercion within the university's football program.
• The chaplain has an office at the Jervey Athletic Center, displays bible quotes on a whiteboard and organized and led sessions on “being baptized” in the athletic building.
"Mr. Trapp, as a paid employee of a state university, may not proselytize or promote religion and may not use his university office to do so," Elliott wrote. He also serves as a Fellowship of Christian Athletes representative and as a football recruiting assistant. A website lists him as campus director of ministry/life coach, and he refers to himself as a minister.
"Mr. Trapp’s legal duties and obligations as a state employee prohibit him from using state resources (i.e., his office in the Jervey Athletic Center) and his official position as a recruiting assistant to proselytize. If Mr. Trapp is to evangelize the team, he must not do so as the recruiting assistant, nor can it be at coach Swinney’s insistence."
FFRF also contends, due to information it's received, that:
• Swinney confirmed that the entire team would attend an FCA breakfast Dec. 31, 2011, wherein three players would “testify.”
• Three privately funded buses (116-seat total capacity) were used to take the team and coaches to Valley Brook Baptist Church on Aug. 7, 2011, and on other occasions for worship on “Church Day.”
• Swinney schedules team devotionals. Records indicate that between March 2012 and April 2013, approximately 87 devotionals were organized by Trapp, approved by Swinney and led by coaching staff.
"[P]layers wishing to abstain should not be forced to subject themselves to the resentment, embarrassment or scrutiny that could result from taking such a stand," Elliott said, citing the 1992 Supreme Court case Lee v. Weisman.
FFRF wants the school to direct Swinney and Trapp to immediately stop team prayers, sermons, bible studies and “church days” for players and train staff about their First Amendment obligations and monitor compliance.
“I’ve never been bashful about telling people I’m a Christian,” Swinney says. “That’s just who I am.”This ties in nicely with our preacher's sermon today on Matthew 16:13-20:
When Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" And they said, "Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?"
As a new season is about to kick off, Swinney has stayed true to his conviction of offering opportunities for spiritual growth to his players despite one organization’s belief that he has gone too far.FFRF's point of view is presented as well,
“I mean, that’s a lot of praying going on,” said Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the FFRF, a nonprofit atheist and agnostic group. “And it’s all orchestrated by the authority figures. And that is abusive."Abusive? This raises the question of what other elements in the education of our youth might be considered abusive. Consider for example LGBT history month and the FAIR act in California that requires schools to teach about the contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from history and social studies lessons. Isn't that all orchestrated by the authority figures? Isn't that coercive? Isn't that abusive?
It appears to me that the Freedom From Religion Foundation is all about making our children slaves to their new Godless religion, and FFRF is going to use threats and bullying to keep educators in line. At least they haven't beheaded anyone in a literal sense, but to go after the head coach is almost like the tactics of a terrorist.
The tactic may be working as this week's story of a teenager being suspended because she said, "Bless you" after someone sneezed in class demonstrated.
Wouldn't the parents of athletes in California who are mandated to be educated in the new religion because of the FAIR act be better served if they sent their kids to Clemson than to Southern Cal.?
In the homes of recruits, Swinney promises parents he will help their son grow academically, athletically and spiritually.Coach has the last and best word,
“Only thing mandatory in our program is you’re going to go to class, you’re going to give effort and you’re going to be a good citizen. You’ll be held accountable for that,” Swinney said. “But spirituality is a personal decision for everybody... It’s a free country here, and I can live my life the way I want to."
“I can’t come to work and not be a Christian.”And that means if you come to Clemson, you will hear about Jesus and his saving grace!