A head basketball coach in New Mexico has resigned after being blasted for allowing his players to wear t-shirts bearing the phrase, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
The Freedom From Religion Foundation immediately expressed outrage and stirred up the angered voices of atheists, agnostics, and “free thinkers” alike.
After an investigation into the t-shirts’ origins, it was discovered that a local church youth group — which many of the school’s students attend — provided them for the basketball team.
The Animas High School coach was also accused of leading a Bible study for the players.
“It does not matter whether some players asked the coach to lead a Bible study or whether wearing the religious t-shirts is optional,” the FFRF’s lawyer wrote in a complaint to the school district. “Courts have summarily rejected arguments that voluntariness excuses a constitutional violation.”
Loren Cushman, the high school’s superintendent, appeared quick to side with the FFRF in an official response to the attorney:
“When I observed the players wearing the t-shirts during pregame warmups, I immediately questioned the coach and activity director,” wrote Cushman. “I gave specific instructions at that time that this was not permissible and was not to happen again”…later adding,”The administration, through me as a superintendent, did address the situation and direct that it is not permissible for individuals to promote religion while serving in any capacity representing the school district.”
Cushman also addressed that the Bible studies, while attended by some of the players, were not held specifically for them:
“Although many of our students attend the local (religious) youth group, it is in no way sponsored or endorsed by the school district. It is my understanding that the coach often attended and at times led the various activities, including Bible study or lessons. The coach is not holding Bible studies for groups of players and/or other students separate from the youth group.”
The superintendent closed the letter in saying, “The coach has submitted his resignation from the district.”
Of course, the FFRF gladly took credit for the resignation.
A New Mexico high school basketball coach who was violating the Constitution resigned after the Freedom From Religion…
“Animas Public Schools officials responded to FFRF’s call with swiftness and resolve,” wrote FFRF co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor in a statement. “Superintendent Cushman acknowledged in his response that FFRF’s concerns were real. He informed the Foundation that the coach in question had resigned. And he added, ‘We will address each of the areas of concern during our staff in-service training at the start of the next school year.'”
“We’re pleased that the Animas school system took us seriously in remedying a constitutional violation,” Gaylor continued. “Behavior cannot be excused in public schools.”