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School Bans ‘Character Coach’ After Atheists Complain

Character does not count, according to atheists.

The Urbandale Community School District in Iowa has dumped its character coach and banished the Fellowship of Christian Athletes from providing any adult mentors for the sports program.

For as far back as anyone can remember the FCA has ministered to athletes throughout the school district. They don’t call them chaplains anymore. They are known as character coaches.

But the Freedom From Religion Foundation says character coaches violate the Equal Access Act. They say religious student clubs can only be led by students.

“Schools cannot constitutionally allow religious organizations to treat schools as a recruiting ground for their religious mission,” FFRF Legal Fellow Sammi Lawrence wrote to the district.

The Wisconsin-based atheists also allege that the Constitution forbids FCA involvement on school property.

The state/church watchdog received a report that an adult representative of the Central Iowa chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes had been inappropriately involved in Urbandale High School’s basketball program. The adult representative served as a “character coach” for the boys’ basketball program at the high school, which was confirmed by a post from the local fellowship chapter on social media. On Jan. 7, members of the team met with the representative for a “pregame chapel.” The representative did not appear to be employed by the school district in any capacity.

Freedom From Religion Foundation

The school district’s attorney fired off a letter affirming that in the future no adults will be allowed to pray in the same room as the basketball players.

“As a result of your letter and the allegations set forth, the district has taken steps to ensure if athletic teams hold chapels or other prayer events, those will be entirely student-led or student-initiated and district employees will not participate. The Fellowship of Christian Athletes group has also been informed that any non-school personnel may direct, lead or regularly attend such events,” the letter read.

The district additionally made it clear that the representative from the Central Iowa fellowship chapter would not be permitted to be represented as a “character coach” for the Urbandale basketball program or any other district venture, including on social media, FFRF said.

“No sports team has ever been propelled to victory thanks to the blessing of any god,” said FFRF co-president Dan Barker. “And no students ever should be expected to pray to play. The district made a good call by keeping this from happening in the future.”

The atheists may have kicked Jesus out of the locker room, but there’s no way they can kick Him out of the hearts of the players or the coaches.

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Should public school athletic teams have Christian chaplains?

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