The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), a conservative Christian-based organization has jumped into the fray between the atheist group Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) and American colleges and universities.
Recently, the FFRF sent letters to 15 colleges and universities, pressuring the schools to fire the chaplains of their football teams. This is because, according to the FFRF, appointing a football chaplain in a sports team is unconstitutional.
The FFRF claims that schools should abolish their chaplaincy because “Christian coaches and chaplains are converting football fields into mission fields” and that appointing football chaplains is a form of “religious discrimination.”
A report by FFRF goes on to say that schools cannot “use the coercive nature and structure of a public football program to mandate, order, or even suggest that players under their control should worship as the coaches wish.”
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The atheist group suggests instead that “it is in the best interest of public universities to adopt policies that protect student athletes from discrimination and unlawful religious coercion.”
It didn’t take long for the ACLJ to join the conflict. The organization released a biting take-down of the FFRF and their argument, and launched a petition to defend religious freedom on campuses. The ACLJ has also prepared legal letters to inform each threatened college football programs of their Constitutional rights.
In response, the ACLJ accused the FFRF of using “scare tactics and false arguments,” adding that “the FFRF attacks traditional faiths and wants to replace them with their radical, leftist, secular orthodoxy.”
Some schools, like Auburn University have also defended themselves, saying in a statement that “Chaplains are common in many public institutions, including the US Congress. The football team chaplain isn’t an Auburn employee, and participation in activities he leads is voluntary.”
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Recipients of the letters include: Louisiana State University, University of Missouri, University of Washington, Auburn University, University of Georgia, Georgia Institute of Technology, University of Illinois, Florida State University, University of Mississippi, University of Wisconsin, Clemson University, University of South Carolina, Mississippi State University, University of Alabama, and University of Tennessee.