After a starting quarterback was injured in a recent football game, teammates gathered and prayed. But that simple act of compassion infuriated the anti-Christian Freedom from Religion Foundation, who sent a letter to the Seminole County Public Schools demanding they cease and desist adult-led prayer, Todd Starnes said on Thursday.
“It is our information and understanding that Seminole High School (is) allowing an adult, a local pastor, to act as a ‘volunteer chaplain’ for the football team,” wrote FFRF attorney Andrew Seidel. The attorney also said the school cannot “allow a non-school adult access to the children in its charge, and certainly cannot grant that access to a pastor seeking to organize prayer for the students.”
But, Starnes noted, the attorney was completely wrong in his assumptions. According to the school, the prayer was instigated by students and no adults were involved.
"There is nothing to cease and desist because our behavior was within the guidelines in the first place,” spokesman Mike Blasewitz told television station WFTV. “No adults in the photo, no adults participating, no adults leading it.”
“They take a knee, whether it’s their player or an opposing player," he said. "We do that to show respect.”
The school responded to the FRFF, and Starnes added, Seidel told him he was satisfied with their response and considers the matter closed. But parents and others are "perturbed" at FRFF's bullying, Starnes added.
“I think what they’re promoting is anti-religion of any kind,” one parent told WFTV. According to CBS Tampa Bay, Pastor Troy Schmidt told Fox News he doesn't believe the FRFF has read the Constitution.
“It’s pretty clear that they cannot prohibit my free expression of my faith or the free expression of the coaches to express their faith," he said. "They’re telling us to be atheists, when we want to say this is what we believe and we want to express it freely like the constitution says.”
Starnes was especially harsh in his criticism of FRFF. Calling the organization "rabid atheists" who are "perpetually offended," he said it "truly takes a special kind of evil to threaten Americans because they prayed over an injured child."