An Arizona high school football coach has been suspended because he prayed with his team.
Head varsity coach, Tom Brittain, participated in prayer with his players at state-funded charter school Tempe Preparatory Academy.
Concerns were raised by school officials over the separation of church, and state and the response by headmaster Dr. David Baum was to suspend Brittain, reports The Blaze.
Brittain’s suspension will last two games.
"He is a man who likes to pray and I don't object to that," said Baum to KPHO. "Just, he can't do that with our students. That's the only prohibition."
The suspension came after a recent game where Brittain prayed in plain sight of everyone with his team.
"He (Brittain) directed students to lead a prayer and he joined the students in that prayer and did so in view of everyone," said Baum. "I think I preserved the religious freedom of our students, who have to have the liberty to be able to practice or not practice their religion on our campus, without interference by adults.”
There are parents and students who disagree.
A sign was hung by a group of students at the recent homecoming game that read, “'We Believe' in Coach Brittain" as a show of support for the suspended coach.
Parent of an alumnus, Keith Wibel, wore a shirt to the game that read, “Let Tom coach.”
"I think it's outrageous," Wibel said. "Ray Rice gets two games for cold-cocking his fiancé and Tom Brittain gets two games for praying."
There are those who support the headmaster’s decision.
"The school is not a religious school," said John Hicks. "It's a regular school. So, it's against the bylaws to in order for him to pray. It's not that he's a bad coach. But, you have to go by the bylaws in anything that you do."
Brittain has declined to comment on the situation to the media. He has been a at teacher Tempe Preparatory Academy for 17 years, and a coach for 12. He will return to coaching after the two game suspension.
Photo Source: KPHO