PRATTVILLE, Ala. – A high school football coach in Alabama has resigned from his job as athletic director over the Christian school’s requirement that he become a member of their church.
According to reports, Scott Phillips had been serving as the coach for the football and basketball teams at East Memorial Christian Academy in Prattville, and was also a Bible and science teacher, when he was offered the position of athletic director.
However, the job came with a stipulation: Phillips must attend church services on Sunday at East Memorial Baptist Church. The problem: His family already had a home church, Church of the Highlands, and he did not wish to abandon his current church home.
“I was 30 seconds from turning the job down because of the church issue,” Phillips told the Montomgery Advertiser. “They wanted me to transition from the Church of the Highlands to East Memorial. I never really liked that, so I went back in my administrator’s office and told them I was willing to give this a try, but I don’t know how this will work out.”
For nearly a year, Phillips attempted a compromise by attending East Memorial Baptist Church at 9:00 a.m. and then also attending his family’s church, Church of the Highlands, at 11:00 a.m. However, before the end of the school year, Phillips sat down with officials and explained that he wasn’t comfortable with the arrangement anymore as it made him feel “dishonest.” He said that he did not desire to be a member of their church, although he could say nothing negative about it.
“In a nutshell, I told them I miss my old church,” Phillips said. “I went in to share my heart to a pastor. Knowing what might happen, but kind of saying, ‘Maybe we can work something out?’ I knew that wasn’t going to be the end of it because it was going to be a process. It wasn’t received well.”
When the school wouldn’t budge with its requirement that Phillips attend their church, he submitted his resignation with reluctance. To his dismay, he was not returned to his coaching job, but lost his employment at East Memorial Christian Academy altogether.
School officials state that there were no vacant coaching positions at the time of resignation, but refused to comment further to reporters.
Phillips says he would have never taken the job if the requirement had been in writing. According to reports, there was no mandate that Phillips attend East Memorial Baptist in his official contract.