Pastor Kevin Williams of the First Baptist Church in Villa Rica, Georgia, is shocked that a mass baptism of students and their football coach at Villa Rica High School on Aug. 17 has caused controversy and garnered media attention (video below).
The church posted (and late removed) a video of the baptisms on YouTube with the caption: "We had the privilege of baptizing a bunch of football players and a coach on the field of Villa Rica High School! We did this right before practice! Take a look and see how God is STILL in our schools!" noted 11 Alive.
The church was holding a "Gridiron Day" on the school football field (government property) when the baptisms took place in a tub of water in front of an applauding crowd.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation, an atheist organization, sent a letter to the Carroll County School System that said:
It is illegal for coaches to participate in religious activities with students, including prayer and baptisms. Nor can coaches allow religious leaders to gain unique access to students during school-sponsored activities.
...When baptisms and prayer take place directly before a team football practice, on school property, with coaches' participation, any reasonable student would perceive these activities to be unequivocally endorsed by their school.
In response, Williams told ChristianToday.com: "We never meant to cause any problems for the school and we never thought we would get this much media attention for baptising kids."
"It was their choice to do that," Williams added. "We live in a free nation. People choose what they want. These people that got baptised freely chose at a church service to accept Christ and this was a follow-up to that."
Williams also said, "We live in a free country," and added, "These people that are trying to say you can't do that, well, they're taking away freedom. When did it become illegal to bow your head and pray? When did it become illegal to say I'm a Christian?"