Religion

S.C. High School Coach Possibly Hired Due To Religion

| by Diana Kruzman
Hal Capps leading a post-game prayer at Mooresville High SchoolHal Capps leading a post-game prayer at Mooresville High School

A religious watchdog organization is questioning whether a South Carolina high school hired its football coach on the basis of his religion.

According to the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a nonprofit organization that aims to educate the public on the separation between church and state, Seneca High School in Seneca, South Carolina, strongly considered the Christian faith of Hal Capps when he was chosen for the position. The FFRF said this violates school nondiscrimination policies.

Texts exchanged between Capps and Principal Cliff Roberts, which the FFRF obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, made reference to God and Christianity.

“I am going to trust you and trust the Good Lord through this, and be obedient to what I feel he is leading us to do," Roberts texted, according to the FFRF. Capps replied with “Amen.”

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Roberts, in a press release on Feb. 9, said  Capps had “high moral character,” which was part of the reason for his hiring, according to Upstate Today.

“[Capps] not only will win a lot of football games — he will teach our young men how to become productive citizens, honorable husbands and dedicated fathers one day,” Roberts said in the release. “It isn’t every day that you have an opportunity to hire someone with the pedigree that Coach Capps brings to the table.”

The FFRF, however, said the school’s decision to hire Capps was “grossly inappropriate and illegal” because of the consideration of religion, according to a letter sent by FFRF Staff Attorney Patrick Elliott to Michael Thorsland, Superintendent of the School District of Oconee County.

"Principal Roberts' use of biblical allusion and statement that he is going to 'trust the Good Lord through this, and be obedient to what I feel he is leading us to do' creates the undeniable impression that the principal's Christian faith played a role in the hiring process,” Elliot wrote in the March 14 letter, according to the FFRF.

The FFRF has called for an investigation into the hiring of Capps and his position at the school. Capps, who coached at Mooresville High School before coming to Seneca, has had previous issues associated with the separation between church and state: He was stopped from leading post-game prayers in 2014, according to the Mooresville Weekly.

Sources: FFRF (2), Upstate Today, Mooresville Weekly / Photo Credit: Aaron Burns/Mooresville Weekly, Carolina Preps

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