Richard Martinez, the boys basketball coach for Espanola Valley High School in New Mexico, was recently suspended after participating in, and possibly leading, a prayer with his student players (video below).
According to KOAT, the school refuses to say why Martinez was suspended because it is a personnel matter, but the coach told the news station off camera that it had something do to with him praying with his team.
Locals are siding with Martinez as his team, the Sun Devils, recently won the state championship, which he described as "magical," and "like entering the kingdom of heaven. That's the closest you'll ever get to being a god. It's a great feeling."
None of the people interviewed/aired by KOAT voiced concern about a government employee possibly leading children in prayer. Likewise, there was mostly support for Martinez on the TV station's Facebook page, with only a few naysayers:
"What's wrong with prayer?!? If you ask me that's what kids these days need, more prayer and God in their lives!"
"Let's all of us real people pray for coach Richard Martinez to get his job back! Oh and let's pray for those that don't believe in praying!"
"What ever happened to ONE nation, under God??! Unless one or more players informed Coach Martinez they did not believe prayer and the coach ignored their request (which I HIGHLY doubt is the case), then the Superintendent in NOT serving our community. Instead she is serving a bureaucratic, not applicable, nonsense policy."
"If he was leading the team in a prayer from the Quran, people would raise hell. But since he's Christian it's ok? No. It's literally unconstitutional for a school coach to participate in, lead, or organize prayer in a public school setting."
The Friendly Atheist notes, "[I]f Martinez was praying with the team and refusing to stop, then this is the appropriate punishment. He can change his ways or find a private Christian school to coach at. As long as he’s at a public school, though, he doesn’t get to preach Christianity."