For opponents of freedom, the football field has now become the “end zone” of religious liberty.
They adamantly claim, “No praying on the field!”
According to the radical Freedom From Religion Foundation, pastors cannot give an inspirational or motivating speech to high school football players. In their mind, pastors supposedly forfeit their First Amendment rights to religious expression when they step on the football field of a local high school.
Recently, these extremists took their unfounded message and misguided attacks to Waldron High School in Arkansas, sending a threatening letter to the school accusing local pastor and Waldron alumnus Konnor McKay of ramming his religious beliefs down the throats of the football players.
When First Liberty learned of this incident, we stepped in immediately to stop FFRF’s bullying tactics. Within a day, our attorneys responded firmly. We made abundantly clear that people of faith have an important bulwark that protects free religious expression, known as the Constitution of the United States.
In short, the radicals at FFRF have twisted the facts. Pastor Konnor was invited by his local community to give a talk at the regional summer football camp. A local newspaper even published a story about the inspirational and impactful time Pastor Konnor shared with the players.
“I was invited to share an encouraging word with the football team,” McKay said on Fox News: The Todd Starnes Radio Show. “I used Scripture and shared a message about teamwork — how to work together in life.”
>Nonetheless, FFRF went after Pastor Konnor, accusing him of “subjecting” young football players to proselytization, demonizing him as an unwanted “evangelist.” It’s not surprising, as they are notorious for hostile antics against any sort of religious expression in our nation’s schools.
But again, we at First Liberty would like to remind FFRF — and all Americans — that serving in ministry does not disqualify pastors or other religious leaders from their individual rights as U.S. citizens. The First Amendment protects pastors’ rights to freedom of speech or expression in our nation’s schools. And that includes the football field.
Rants like “play, don’t pray” don’t score points against First Liberty’s legal team. What keeps the playing field level for religious freedom — and for all Americans — is the playbook we call the U.S. Constitution.
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