The Freedom From Religion Foundation has put the University of Toledo on notice: Stop with the pre-game prayers, or we’ll take action.
Head coach Matt Campbell has been accused by the atheists’ group of committing a “serious and flagrant violation of the First Amendment” for leading his team in prayer in the lead-up to a game against Bowling Green in 2012. The pre-game prayer was videotaped by a GoPro mobile camera affixed to one player’s helmet. The video just surfaced online and FFRF immediately swung into action.
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In the video, Campbell is heard telling his 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,” Campus Reform reported.
He then kneels and starts to say the Lord’s Prayer.
But the FFRF says such prayers are unacceptable because they make players feel “huge pressure to participate … to please their coach or curry favor,” Campus Reform said.
In a letter to the university, the atheists’ group wrote: “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 her personal religious beliefs.”
Typically, the FFRF follows its letters with some sort of legal threat, if the targeted agency or organization does not change its prayer practices.
University of Toledo officials confirmed receipt of the FFRF letter and said they are “reviewing its contents,” Campus Reform said.