Freedom From Religion Foundation wants U. of Toledo football to stop pre-game prayers
Pic via U. of Toledo YouTube channel.
The University of Toledo football program has been violating the Constitution with pregame prayers, according to the Freedom From Religion Foundation.
The group, which serves as a “voice for freethought,” claimed that Head Coach Matt Campbell committed a “serious and flagrant violation of the First Amendment” when he led the team in a prayer before a 2012 game against Bowling Green.
"I’m going to say this: Every one of us has so much to be thankful for. A great night to play football, play with your brothers, OK? What an opportunity. Let’s be grateful for it."
The complaint stems from a video posted to the university’s YouTube page which features footage from a GoPro mobile camera that was mounted on the helmet of then-kicker Jeremiah Detmer.
The video shows Coach Campbell telling the team “I’m going to say this: Every one of us has so much to be thankful for. A great night to play football, play with your brothers, OK? What an opportunity. Let’s be grateful for it.”
At that, he takes a knee and the team begins to recite the Lord’s Prayer.
According to the foundation, this sort of activity is unacceptable, and results in players feeling “huge pressure to participate in the prayer” in order to “please their coach or curry favor.”
A letter from FFRF to the university reiterated the sentiment, claiming “By incorporating a Christian prayer into the team’s pregame activities, Coach Campbell sends a message of exclusion to those players on his team not in conformity with his personal religious beliefs”.
The letter called on the University of Toledo to stop any sort of prayers that are going on during sporting events.
“The University of Toledo is grateful to Coach Matt Campbell for his leadership in elevating UT student-athletes’ performance in the classroom and on the field,” the university said in a statement to Campus Reform. “UT is in receipt of a letter from the Freedom From Religion Foundation regarding UT’s football program and is reviewing its contents.”
Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @cabot_phillips