Auburn University football coach Hugh Freeze is facing potential legal issues after he helped baptize students during an after-hours, on-campus worship service.
First Liberty Institute has announced they are representing Coach Freeze after a Wisconsin-based atheist group threatened the coach.
“Here we are again with people that are upset with people of faith doing people of faith things, I mean, for goodness sake. This is America, right?” attorney Jeremy Dys told Starnes.
“This country has a promise of religious liberty. And yet this group would have Auburn University censor religious people, suppress their religious speech, and punish them for engaging in religious activity in the name, of the way, that they think is religious liberty” Dys said.
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LISTEN TO THE FULL INTERVIEW BELOW:
The following is a rush transcript from the Todd Starnes Show, which airs daily from noon – 3:00 p.m. EST.
TODD STARNES: [01:03:51] All right. Jeremy will give us the latest here. We understand the atheists are coming after the coach. What’s the very latest? [01:03:58][6.6]
JEREMY DYS: [01:03:59] Well, here we are again with people that are upset with people of faith doing people of faith, things that mean, goodness sake. This is America, right? That has a promise of religious liberty. And yet this group would have the University or Auburn University censor religious people, suppress their religious speech, and punish them for engaging in religious activity in the name, of the way, that they think is religious liberty. That’s, of course, not the promise of religious liberty. Instead, religious liberty says, of course, people of faith can come on campus, they can be a part of the community, and they could even do religious things on this campus. And by the way, if you’re a football coach a basketball coach, or an employee of Auburn University, well, you can also be religious. The Supreme Court has been emphatically clear on this that the First Amendment is designed to protect religious liberty, not to punish it. And that old regime of constantly punishing you for engaging in religious activity because you’re somehow associated with a public university or a public high school or a public employee of some sort. Those days are gone back to the days when the First Amendment that protect the free exercise of religion, rather than using the establishment clause as a cudgel to beat you into suppression for engaging in religion. [01:05:11][71.8]
TODD STARNES: [01:05:12] So, Jeremy, I know you guys represented Coach Kennedy and won that case with the Supreme Court. Does that have any play here, that ruling? Does it have any play on what happened at Auburn? [01:05:22][10.6]
JEREMY DYS: [01:05:25] That’s exactly what I’m going after here. It was Justice Gorsuch, who said that the school district in Coach Kennedy’s case would have us in the name of religious liberty, suppress it. Well, those days are gone, he said. Now, the First Amendment has, by the way, two clauses in it that deal with religion. It seems that these groups seem to focus on the second one, the establishment clause, far more often than the primary one, which is the free exercise clause, and Justice Gorsuch was clear. We’re supposed to view those clauses as working in concert with one another. They complement each other. They complement each other on the way to maximizing the freedom that we actually have. Now, it’s hard for us as a country, it seems to be right now to get our heads around that, because we have, for most of our lifetimes lived under the notion that if you’re in a public space or you’re in public, you’re a public employee of some sort. Well, then you have to be quiet about your religion. You’ve got to tuck it away in the glove box before you walk on the school property or something. Those days are gone. Now, if the First Amendment was designed to make sure that you were able to be a person of faith, a Christian on campus, and to express your religion wherever you may find yourself, that’s that is what we want to and should get back to the country because that maximizes our freedom as a nation when we are committed dogmatically to that. The free exercise of religion means the free exercise of religion. [01:06:48][83.8]
TODD STARNES: [01:06:50] Yeah, Jeremy Dys on the Patriot mobile newsmaker line from First Liberty Institute. Jeremy, you know this organization very well, the Freedom from Religion Foundation. In many of these cases, they’re just blowhards. Have they taken this had they ratcheted up the threats? Have they actually filed any sort of complaint? [01:07:09][19.3]
JEREMY DYS: [01:07:11] Well, look, these are just complaints right now, and they’re what you might call an anti-gram that’s been sent to Auburn University and unnecessarily so. Look, I think you and I need to applaud Governor Ivey there, the Alabama governor. She wrote a letter last week to the Auburn in the community. She’s the president or the chancellor or I guess of the board of Auburn as the governor. And she basically said, look, nobody should be taking legal advice from this organization. And certainly, we’re not going to be intimidated by outside organizations outside of Alabama to practice the First Amendment. And it should look, I, I, I should hope that they would not file. Let me put it this way. I should hope not to be so foolish as a firewall lawsuit against Auburn University for what is clearly a protected First Amendment activity. But if they were, we’re more than happy to defend both Coach Freeze, as well as the students who are there. And in addition to all of them, Auburn University as a whole, no one should be suppressed in the name of exercising their religion in the name of somehow religious liberty. Religious liberty means you can exercise your religion and you ought to be free to do so. And a free people ought to be free to do so. [01:08:23][71.6]
TODD STARNES: [01:08:24] Yeah, I’m so glad to hear you say that, because, you know, we’ve seen so many of these stories pop up. And while all that was going on, the governor actually had to defend another school, a community college. Snead State Community College. The university president apparently triggered people by delivering a prayer over the meal, which is a pretty common occurrence, you know, in many households across the country. It just doesn’t stop. [01:08:48][24.6]
JEREMY DYS: [01:08:49] It doesn’t look and if you’re listening to the show and you don’t know what your rights are skeptical about what that is, go to first liberty.com or learn about what freedom actually is and what it means to you and how you can be a part of practicing that religion wherever you may find yourself. [01:09:04][15.9]
TODD STARNES: [01:09:06] I love it. Well, Jeremy, we appreciate the update. And even as a Tennessee volunteer, I say War Eagle here, we all have to stand up for religious liberty, no matter your political or football affiliation. [01:09:21][14.9]
JEREMY DYS: [01:09:23] That’s right, War Eagle. [01:09:23][0.5]
TODD STARNES: [01:09:24] Oh, right. There you go. All right, Jeremy Dys, everybody from First Liberty Institute standing up for and defending a coach you freeze down at Auburn University. Well, I’m telling you, these atheist people, they’re nuts. They’re just nuts. Now, there are plenty of atheists in America. They just want to go about their lives and live their American dream. And more power to you. But I’m telling you, these radicals, they want to shut everybody down. And thank goodness there are organizations like First Liberty Institute out there, and they’re taking a stand for it for freedom and liberty. [01:10:00][35.8]