The Freedom From Religion Foundation, a non-profit organization fighting for the separation of church and state, has sent a letter to Georgia Tech accusing the chaplain of the school’s football team for violating the U.S. Constitution. According to ESPN, Derrick Moore has been employed as a chaplain of the Georgia Tech Athletic Association and worked with the local Fellowship of Christian Athletes chapter for several years. In addition to meeting with players on an individual basis to discuss their spirituality, Moore has also been videotaped giving pump-up speeches to the team before games.
According to the Atlanta-Journal Constitution, the Freedom From Religion Foundation issued similar letters to roughly 20 public schools throughout the nation. The organization also targeted the University of Georgia, accusing coach Mark Richt of raising money for Christian groups. Overall, however, the organization is calling for the removal of the chaplains in place at those schools.
Religion, for better worse, is ingrained in Southern football culture. It is not uncommon to see entire teams kneeling in prayer during game warmups. The fact that there are so many team chaplains demonstrates how teams impose their brand of Christianity on students that come from diverse backgrounds. It is a problem, of course, when a particular religion is endorsed by a public, state school.
As the Atlanta-Journal Constitution reports, UGA has dismissed the recent Freedom From Religion Foundation request because their football program is not publicly funded. Instead, it is run by private nonprofit the UGA Athletic Association. “The local chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes provides optional chaplain services for student-athletes that wish to participate. Neither the University nor the Athletic Association finances these activities, and they are completely voluntary for the student athletes,” said UGA Director of Athletics Greg McGarity. It is unclear how the situation will unfold with the other schools in question.
Image Source: The Atlanta-Journal Constitution