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Atheist Group Slams Georgia High School Coach for Quoting Scripture, Praying on Football Field

( [email protected] ) Aug 13, 2014 02:03 PM EDT
An atheist group in Georgia has threatened to sue a local highschool after discovering that coaches at the school pray with football players before games and quote Bible verses in team documents.
The football team at a Georgia highschool regularly pray on the field together (FoxNews)

A Georgia high school football team which prays on the field may be sued by an Atheist group who argue that public displays of Christianity are unconstitutional.  

The American Humanist Association (AHA) has accused football coaches at Chestatee High School in Gainesville of quoting scripture on team documents and pre-game banners and regularly leading the War Eagles in prayer during practice and before games.  

"There's really no defense for doing this," AHA attorney Monica Miller told FoxNews.com. "It's not even solely student prayer - it's teachers and coaches praying with students. And we have reason to believe it's not an isolated event."

On Tuesday, the AHA sent a letter threatening to sue Hall County Schools, saying a "concerned citizen" notified them that the 1,200-student school in Gainesville, about 55 miles northeast of Atlanta, appeared to be violating the First Amendment. The letter demanded that coaches cut team-sanctioned prayers and remove all Bible verses and other religious messages from team documents and materials.

The AHA also expressed outrage that Head Coach Stan Luttrell joined players as they held hands and prayed.

"At times, the head coach has led the prayers, which is an egregious violation of the Establishment Clause," the letter continues. "This involvement in prayer as a 'participant, an organizer, and a leader' would unquestionably 'lead a reasonable observer to conclude that he was endorsing religion.'"

The letter also referenced several cases where coaches and teachers led team prayers during practices and quoted Scripture following games.  

A workout log included a citation to Galations 6:9, which reads: "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up," and a banner used for a pregame ceremony alluded to Proverbs 27:17, which reads: "As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another."

"Unfortunately, the school's actions in unconstitutionally advancing and endorsing religion do not end with the prayers," read the letter.

Gordon Higgins, director of community relations and athletics at Hall County Schools, told FoxNews.com that district officials will look into the complaint.

"We will be investigating, but it's really too early in the process for me to comment," Higgins said. "But we're going to start looking at this right away and address any impropriety that we find."

Judith Restin, whose son Marcus attends the highschool, says parents of students are "horrified" at the thought of a lawsuit.

"Praying in our school is not hurting anyone," she said. "We are collectively horrified at the idea of removing prayer and scripture from our school at the command of a bitter atheist group." 

Tags : football, Georgia, atheist, Group, prayer