Amid legal threats, Fla. school district initiates a ‘cleansing of Christianity from its ranks’

Photo Credit Daniel Wallace | Tampa Bay Times

With costly legal action being the weapon of choice, Freedom From Religion Foundation is on a crusade to remove Christianity from American society, and the atheist group can add to its long record of success the removal of team chaplains in a Florida school district.

Orange County Public Schools has initiated a “crackdown on Christianity,” as described by Fox News reporter Todd Starnes, which includes bringing to an end the practice of having local clergy serve as volunteer chaplains for football teams.

“They cannot have chaplains or ministers before or after games – leading prayer,” school district spokesperson Shari Bobinski told Starnes. “Students are more than welcome to lead their own prayers but our faculty and staff cannot be involved nor can we bring in an outside chaplain.”

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According to a memorandum from OCPS general counsel Diego “Woody” Rodriquezthe act is an “unconstitutional endorsement of religion.”

The memorandum said: “Having a team chaplain is not permitted as it is an unconstitutional endorsement of religion in the same manner as a school employee participating in prayer with students.”

The school district is restricting other displays of Christianity. Fox News reported:

“Bible verses and references to the Bible are banned on school property. Bible verses are also prohibited on clothing produced by the school. And songs with religious lyrics may not be used in school-related videos.”

Pastor Troy Schmidt, who served for six years as chaplain for the Olympia High School football team, told Fox News he received a call from the team’s coach.

He said Orange County Public Schools is no longer allowed to have chaplains as a part of the football program,” Schmidt said.

He described how the coach explained the district’s decision to “cleanse Christianity from its ranks,” as Starnes wrote.

“I could no longer open the Bible, talk about the Bible, talk about God or pray with the team in any capacity,” the pastor said. “It was heartbreaking.”

Schmidt was given the option of being a secular “life coach” for the team, which he did not accept.

Legendary Florida State football coach Bobby Bowden, winner of two national championships, was plugging his new book Wednesday on “Fox and Friends” and was asked to comment on faith being removed from football.

“I’d do it anyway, I did it anyway at Florida State,” Bowden said. “I don’t care about political correctness, I want to be spiritually correct.”


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