US public school removes sports chaplains, bans Bibles

(Photo: REUTERS / Jonathan Ernst)

U.S. flag-themed magnet decorates a door at the Faith & Freedom Coalition Road to Majority Conference in Washington, June 15, 2013.

A U.S. school that allows atheists to distribute literature is now removing chaplains, Bibles, and bible verses from sports venues and apparel.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation "pressured" the Orange County Public School in Florida to stop allowing local ministers to provide pre-game and post-game prayers for football players.

The FFRF memorandum said, "having a team chaplain is an unconstitutional endorsement of religion."

Now, the voluntary team chaplains may become life coaches but they are not allowed to pray.

"They cannot have chaplains or ministers before or after games, leading prayer," Orange County Public School spokeswoman Shari Bobinski was quoted as saying by Fox News on August 27.

The school also agreed with FFRF about banning religious music in videos arguing about it being unconstitutional.

On the move of Orange County, legendary football coach Bobby Bowden said that he didn't care about the Constitution or the First Amendment prohibition, "I'd do it anyway. . . . I don't care about political correctness," Bowden said, "I want to be spiritually correct."

Bowden is a retired football coach who holds the NCAA record for most career wins and bowl wins by a Division I FBS coach.

"Coaches have the greatest opportunity to help young men grow up," Bowden said on influencing the lives of the students.

Troy Schmidt, a campus pastor of the First Baptist Church of Windermere, Florida, said the move of the school is heartbreaking.

"I could no longer open the Bible, talk about the Bible, talk about God or pray with the team in any capacity," he said.

Another school also got a complaint this week from the FFRF on a football prayer huddle at Seminole High School.

However, Principal Connie Collins said that prayer was legal because it was student-led.

"We can't stay silent any longer," Schmidt told Fox News. Pastor Schmidt said it's time to speak up.

"We're not going to give up," he said. "We're not going to give up on the team."

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