A humanist group sent five universities letters and records request concerning the use of chaplains for their respective basketball teams.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation, a Wisconsin-based group that advocates for the separation between church and state, sent the requests to the University of Louisville, Wichita State University, University of Maryland, Oklahoma University, Kanas University and University of Virginia for appointing a chaplain.
"Public school athletic teams cannot appoint or employ a chaplain, seek out a spiritual leader for the team, or agree to have a volunteer team chaplain because public schools may not advance or promote religion," said Freedom From Religion staff attorney Andrew Seidel.
Last Thursday, Wichita State University told the group that it plans to investigate the chaplain’s role in the basketball team’s locker room.
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Several of the aforementioned university teams had associations with Nations of Coaches, a national coaching group aimed to help coaches professionally and spiritually, according to the Freedom From Religion Foundation complaint.
Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino allegedly asked his friend, Father Ed Bradley, to serve as the team’s "unofficial chaplain." The University of Maryland, Oklahoma University and Kanas University also have individual chaplains for their basketball teams.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation’s statement said they think it is unfair for schools to make players see a religious figure because players may not hold the same religious beliefs.
"One in three Americans under the age of 30 identifies as nonreligious, making it very likely these chaplains are imposing their religion on students who are not religious and just want to play basketball," the statement said.
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Representatives from the group said they sent the letter and records request to protect the rights of players who may not want to pray at designated times.
"Abolishing the team chaplaincy will not alter student athletes' ability to pray, but it will prevent some student athletes from feeling coerced into participating in prayers to a deity they may not believe in," Seidel said.
Photo Credit: Freedom From Religion Foundation