Quit your unconstitutional pandering, FFRF rebukes Sen. Tuberville lauryn@ffrf.org (Lauryn Seering) News Releases – Freedom From Religion Foundation – Freedom From Religion Foundation

Read More News Releases – Freedom From Religion Foundation – Freedom From Religion Foundation The Freedom From Religion Foundation is chiding Alabama’s junior senator for his support of an unconstitutional school practice that the state/church watchdog has gotten stopped. Jefferson County Schools in Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s home state recently ended its unconstitutional custom of broadcasting prayer over the loudspeaker before high school football games after FFRF reminded the district that school-sponsored prayer violates the law. In response to the district’s decision to follow the law and respect the rights of its students, parents, and community members, Tuberville tweeted from his official Senate Twitter account: “At Auburn, I hired a team chaplain because I knew the positive impact it would have on my players. We need more God in our lives, not less.”  “We” don’t need “more God in our lives,” FFRF emphasizes; we need our public officials and employees to respect the constitutionally mandated separation between church and state.  The unconstitutional conduct Tuberville engaged in while he was a coach at multiple public universities, including Auburn, is not something that he should be bragging about. His egregious misuse of his public position featured prominently in FFRF’s 2015 Pray to Play report, which documented unconstitutional Christian chaplaincies embedded in public university football programs.  “The idea that religion, and particularly Christianity, is required to be a complete or good human being is erroneous,” FFRF Co-Presidents Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor write to the senator. “Religion is not required to be moral, productive, or happy — in fact, sometimes the reverse is true. Modern social science shows that for virtually every measure of societal success and well-being, the least religious states and countries score better.” In a shameful case of a chaplain gone all wrong, Tuberville hired Antrione Archer to be a salaried team chaplain at the University of Cincinnati. Archer, who instructed players on appropriate “sexual conduct” in his role as chaplain, was later jailed for sexually assaulting a 73-year-old grocery store employee. Tuberville had reportedly fundraised for Archer and personally vouched for his character. Promoting religion in a public school football program actually harms students who don’t subscribe to the religious beliefs of their coaches, FFRF points out. Students can be coerced into participating in religious rituals they don’t believe in and may be required to fake religious belief for the sake of pleasing coaches. Public high schools have a legal obligation, based on more than 75 years of case law, to ensure school athletes are free from religious indoctrination, rituals or coercion as part of the school day and at school events. It is anathema for any public school student to feel they must “pray to play.”  As a U.S. senator, Tuberville represents a diverse population that consists of not only Christians but also minority religious and nonreligious citizens, FFRF underscores. Religious endorsements made in his official capacity send a message that excludes the 35 percent of Americans who are non-Christian, including the almost 30 percent of Americans today who are nonreligious. That’s why it was wrong when Tuberville used his position to push religion as college football coach at public universities, and it is wrong for him to do so as a senator, FFRF asserts.  By way of a postscript, Jefferson County Schools Superintendent Walter Gonsulin Jr. subsequently issued another statement about the district agreeing to stop prayer over the public address system. That statement emphasized that “voluntary” prayer is still allowed by students, but did not retract the district’s agreement to conform to longstanding case law and stop using the public address system to broadcast prayer at school sporting events.The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national nonprofit organization with more than 36,000 members across the country, including hundreds of members in Alabama. It protects the constitutional separation between state and church, and educates about nontheism.

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