Religion

Atheist Group: College Coach Shouldn't Tweet Religion

| by Michael Allen

The Freedom From Religion Foundation wants the University of Mississippi to stop its head football coach Hugh Freeze from tweeting about Christianity.

FFRF staff attorney Sam Grover sent a letter to University of Mississippi Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter on April 5, notes the FFRF website:

As a state-run institution, the University of Mississippi is bound by the Constitution's Establishment Clause, which "mandates governmental neutrality between religion and religion, and between religion and nonreligion."

Ole Miss violates that constitutional mandate when it promotes religious statements or allows its employees to promote their personal religious beliefs while acting in their official capacities.

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According to the FFRF, Freeze appears to be using an official school Twitter account [CoachHughFreeze] to tweet religious postings, such as: "Here's the best news ever, your eternal standing with God doesn't depend on the your goodness, but on God's unshakable faithfulness," and "Lead us by your truth and teach us 2day, for you are the God who saves us! All day long I put my hope in you. Ps 25:5 - be a blessing 2day."

The FFRF notes that Freeze's tweets also appear on the official Ole Miss Football webpage, as do religious tweets by assistant coach Maurice Harris, including: "God's comfort soothes us perfectly. As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you. Isaiah 66:13."

The FFRF says it does not oppose Freeze tweeting as a private citizen, but does oppose Freeze, Harris and any other employees promoting religious beliefs while representing the publicly-funded college.

FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor stated: "A public institution with such a storied past as Ole Miss must certainly realize the importance of the First Amendment. It needs to make its employees adhere to the constitutional separation of state and church."

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Jeremy Dys of the First Liberty Institute law firm issued a statement to The Christian Post:

Football coaches do not lose their First Amendment rights simply because they work for a public university. The First Amendment protects the right of Americans like Coach Freeze to engage in religious expression on their personal Twitter accounts.

And our universities ought be places where tolerance, inclusivity, and diversity are promoted. The FFRF has resorted to intolerant bullying in an attempt to silence and censor Coach Freeze. At First Liberty Institute, we defend religious freedom for all Americans. We encourage the University of Mississippi to ignore the FFRF's letter.

The Christian Post tried to contact the University of Mississippi, but did not receive a response.

The news site notes some recent tweets by Freeze: "Hope you have the chance to worship today with others. Looking for a place near Oxford? Join us [PinelakeOXF] 9:15 or 11:00," and "Life is precious and short and today is a gift from God, who never changes."

Sources: Freedom From Religion Foundation, The Christian Post / Photo Credit: Jeremynabors/Wikimedia

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