Illinois High School Football Team Stands by Coach Told to Stop Leading Prayers

football game pdNAPERVILLE, Ill. — A high school football team in Illinois is standing by its coach after he was recently told to stop leading players in prayer when a professing atheist group contacted the school district to lodge a complaint.

The Wisconsin-based Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) wrote to Naperville Community Unit School District 203 this week after photos surfaced of Naperville Central High School coach Mike Stine praying with his team, the Redhawks.

“It is illegal for public school athletic coaches to lead their teams in prayer,” the letter, written by staff attorney Ryan Jayne, read.

“Public school coaches must refrain not only from leading prayers themselves, but also from participating in students’ prayers,” it continued. “It is unconstitutional for public school employees to participate in the religious activities of their students.”

Superintendent Dan Bridges investigated the matter after receiving FFRF’s complaint, and contacted all coaches within the district, including Stine, to advise that they were prohibited from leading students in prayer.

“We are aware that a coach-led prayer is not appropriate,” a statement from the district, released on Thursday, reads. “The head football coach has been instructed that neither he nor his staff may lead his players in prayer. This message has been communicated to the athletic directors at both high schools to ensure that this expectation is shared with coaches of all sports at all levels.”

But FFRF says that it is not completely satisfied with the district’s response, sending a reply that states that the ban on coach-led prayer “does not go far enough.”

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“As explained briefly in our original letter, it is unconstitutional for public school employees to participate in the religious activities of their students,” Jayne wrote. “Any reasonable observer would understand a coach’s participation in a religious activity with students as an endorsement of that religious message.”

Stine’s team has now released a statement, expressing their support for their coach.

“We, as a football team and a family, give Coach Stine our full support,” the statement reads. “He is the best coach in the state and cares about each and every one of us more than any other coach cares about his players.”

“We are proud that he is willing to stand up for his faith and for the example he sets for us,” it continues. “He is a role model for every one of us in a world where true male role models are becoming few and far between.”

The team invited FFRF to attend a game and watch the players pray.

“The players will continue this tradition of praying before our games, and would like to extend an invitation to all members of the Freedom From Religion Foundation to come out next fall and watch us pray and play the game we love,” it said. “Go Redhawks.”

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  • The Last Trump

    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or PROHIBITING the free exercise thereof”

    “free exercise thereof.” Period.
    Guaranteed by the Establishment Clause. Prayer simply can’t be stopped.
    Deal with it atheist crybabies.

    • Ambulance Chaser

      No one is trying to “stop prayer.” We’re trying to stop the government from promoting a religion.

      • Josey

        Government? Ha! And why would an atheist care? Because prayer recognizes God as the ultimate authority which He is! There’s some promoting for ya!

        • Ambulance Chaser

          Because it’s unconstitutional. That’s the only reason I care.

          • afchief

            Silly make believe lawyer, show me in the 1st amendment where Congress = school? Show me where in the 1st amendment that Congress established a religion? Show me where in the 1st amendment this coach cannot “exercise” his free speech?

            “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;”

            Yes, more proof that liberalism truly is a mental disorder!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • The Last Trump

        Government!? Oh?
        The coach is some kind of government secret agent now?
        Seriously! Where do you loons come up with this stuff!

        • Ambulance Chaser

          He’s not secret. Nobody said he was a “secret agent.” But he is a member of the government. Or are public schools run by some other organization now?

      • afchief

        Silly make believe lawyer….THE SCHOOL IS NOT CONGRESS!!!!!

        The Separation of Church and State

        David Barton – 01/2001

        In 1947, in the case Everson v. Board of Education, the Supreme Court declared, “The First Amendment has erected a wall between church and state. That wall must be kept high and impregnable. We could not approve the slightest breach.” The “separation of church and state” phrase which they invoked, and which has today become so familiar, was taken from an exchange of letters between President Thomas Jefferson and the Baptist Association of Danbury, Connecticut, shortly after Jefferson became President.

        The election of Jefferson – America’s first Anti-Federalist President – elated many Baptists since that denomination, by-and-large, was also strongly Anti-Federalist. This political disposition of the Baptists was understandable, for from the early settlement of Rhode Island in the 1630s to the time of the federal Constitution in the 1780s, the Baptists had often found themselves suffering from the centralization of power.

        Consequently, now having a President who not only had championed the rights of Baptists in Virginia but who also had advocated clear limits on the centralization of government powers, the Danbury Baptists wrote Jefferson a letter of praise on October 7, 1801, telling him:

        Among the many millions in America and Europe who rejoice in your election to office, we embrace the first opportunity . . . to express our great satisfaction in your appointment to the Chief Magistracy in the United States. . . . [W]e have reason to believe that America’s God has raised you up to fill the Chair of State out of that goodwill which He bears to the millions which you preside over. May God strengthen you for the arduous task which providence and the voice of the people have called you. . . . And may the Lord preserve you safe from every evil and bring you at last to his Heavenly Kingdom through Jesus Christ our Glorious Mediator. [1]

        However, in that same letter of congratulations, the Baptists also expressed to Jefferson their grave concern over the entire concept of the First Amendment, including of its guarantee for “the free exercise of religion”:

        Our sentiments are uniformly on the side of religious liberty: that religion is at all times and places a matter between God and individuals, that no man ought to suffer in name, person, or effects on account of his religious opinions, [and] that the legitimate power of civil government extends no further than to punish the man who works ill to his neighbor. But sir, our constitution of government is not specific. . . . [T]herefore what religious privileges we enjoy (as a minor part of the State) we enjoy as favors granted, and not as inalienable rights. [2]

        In short, the inclusion of protection for the “free exercise of religion” in the constitution suggested to the Danbury Baptists that the right of religious expression was government-given (thus alienable) rather than God-given (hence inalienable), and that therefore the government might someday attempt to regulate religious expression. This was a possibility to which they strenuously objected-unless, as they had explained, someone’s religious practice caused him to “work ill to his neighbor.”

        Jefferson understood their concern; it was also his own. In fact, he made numerous declarations about the constitutional inability of the federal government to regulate, restrict, or interfere with religious expression. For example:

        [N]o power over the freedom of religion . . . [is] delegated to the United States by the Constitution. Kentucky Resolution, 1798 [3]

        In matters of religion, I have considered that its free exercise is placed by the Constitution independent of the powers of the general [federal] government. Second Inaugural Address, 1805 [4]

        [O]ur excellent Constitution . . . has not placed our religious rights under the power of any public functionary. Letter to the Methodist Episcopal Church, 1808 [5]

        I consider the government of the United States as interdicted [prohibited] by the Constitution from intermeddling with religious institutions . . . or exercises. Letter to Samuel Millar, 1808 [6]

        Jefferson believed that the government was to be powerless to interfere with religious expressions for a very simple reason: he had long witnessed the unhealthy tendency of government to encroach upon the free exercise of religion. As he explained to Noah Webster:

        It had become an universal and almost uncontroverted position in the several States that the purposes of society do not require a surrender of all our rights to our ordinary governors . . . and which experience has nevertheless proved they [the government] will be constantly encroaching on if submitted to them; that there are also certain fences which experience has proved peculiarly efficacious [effective] against wrong and rarely obstructive of right, which yet the governing powers have ever shown a disposition to weaken and remove. Of the first kind, for instance, is freedom of religion. [7]

        Thomas Jefferson had no intention of allowing the government to limit, restrict, regulate, or interfere with public religious practices. He believed, along with the other Founders, that the First Amendment had been enacted only to prevent the federal establishment of a national denomination – a fact he made clear in a letter to fellow-signer of the Declaration of Independence Benjamin Rush:

        [T]he clause of the Constitution which, while it secured the freedom of the press, covered also the freedom of religion, had given to the clergy a very favorite hope of obtaining an establishment of a particular form of Christianity through the United States; and as every sect believes its own form the true one, every one perhaps hoped for his own, but especially the Episcopalians and Congregationalists. The returning good sense of our country threatens abortion to their hopes and they believe that any portion of power confided to me will be exerted in opposition to their schemes. And they believe rightly. [8]

        Jefferson had committed himself as President to pursuing the purpose of the First Amendment: preventing the “establishment of a particular form of Christianity” by the Episcopalians, Congregationalists, or any other denomination.

        Since this was Jefferson’s view concerning religious expression, in his short and polite reply to the Danbury Baptists on January 1, 1802, he assured them that they need not fear; that the free exercise of religion would never be interfered with by the federal government. As he explained:

        Gentlemen, – The affectionate sentiments of esteem and approbation which you are so good as to express towards me on behalf of the Danbury Baptist Association give me the highest satisfaction. . . . Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God; that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship; that the legislative powers of government reach actions only and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between Church and State. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties. I reciprocate your kind prayers for the protection and blessing of the common Father and Creator of man, and tender you for yourselves and your religious association assurances of my high respect and esteem. [9]

        Jefferson’s reference to “natural rights” invoked an important legal phrase which was part of the rhetoric of that day and which reaffirmed his belief that religious liberties were inalienable rights. While the phrase “natural rights” communicated much to people then, to most citizens today those words mean little.

        By definition, “natural rights” included “that which the Books of the Law and the Gospel do contain.” [10] That is, “natural rights” incorporated what God Himself had guaranteed to man in the Scriptures. Thus, when Jefferson assured the Baptists that by following their “natural rights” they would violate no social duty, he was affirming to them that the free exercise of religion was their inalienable God-given right and therefore was protected from federal regulation or interference.

        So clearly did Jefferson understand the Source of America’s inalienable rights that he even doubted whether America could survive if we ever lost that knowledge. He queried:

        And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure if we have lost the only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? [11]

        Jefferson believed that God, not government, was the Author and Source of our rights and that the government, therefore, was to be prevented from interference with those rights. Very simply, the “fence” of the Webster letter and the “wall” of the Danbury letter were not to limit religious activities in public; rather they were to limit the power of the government to prohibit or interfere with those expressions.

        Earlier courts long understood Jefferson’s intent. In fact, when Jefferson’s letter was invoked by the Supreme Court (only twice prior to the 1947 Everson case – the Reynolds v. United States case in 1878), unlike today’s Courts which publish only his eight-word separation phrase, that earlier Court published Jefferson’s entire letter and then concluded:

        Coming as this does from an acknowledged leader of the advocates of the measure, it [Jefferson’s letter] may be accepted almost as an authoritative declaration of the scope and effect of the Amendment thus secured. Congress was deprived of all legislative power over mere [religious] opinion, but was left free to reach actions which were in violation of social duties or subversive of good order. (emphasis added) [12]

        That Court then succinctly summarized Jefferson’s intent for “separation of church and state”:

        [T]he rightful purposes of civil government are for its officers to interfere when principles break out into overt acts against peace and good order. In th[is] . . . is found the true distinction between what properly belongs to the church and what to the State. [13]

        With this even the Baptists had agreed; for while wanting to see the government prohibited from interfering with or limiting religious activities, they also had declared it a legitimate function of government “to punish the man who works ill to his neighbor.”

        That Court, therefore, and others (for example, Commonwealth v. Nesbit and Lindenmuller v. The People), identified actions into which – if perpetrated in the name of religion – the government did have legitimate reason to intrude. Those activities included human sacrifice, polygamy, bigamy, concubinage, incest, infanticide, parricide, advocation and promotion of immorality, etc.

        Such acts, even if perpetrated in the name of religion, would be stopped by the government since, as the Court had explained, they were “subversive of good order” and were “overt acts against peace.” However, the government was never to interfere with traditional religious practices outlined in “the Books of the Law and the Gospel” – whether public prayer, the use of the Scriptures, public acknowledgements of God, etc.

        Therefore, if Jefferson’s letter is to be used today, let its context be clearly given – as in previous years. Furthermore, earlier Courts had always viewed Jefferson’s Danbury letter for just what it was: a personal, private letter to a specific group. There is probably no other instance in America’s history where words spoken by a single individual in a private letter – words clearly divorced from their context – have become the sole authorization for a national policy. Finally, Jefferson’s Danbury letter should never be invoked as a stand-alone document. A proper analysis of Jefferson’s views must include his numerous other statements on the First Amendment.

        For example, in addition to his other statements previously noted, Jefferson also declared that the “power to prescribe any religious exercise. . . . must rest with the States” (emphasis added). Nevertheless, the federal courts ignore this succinct declaration and choose rather to misuse his separation phrase to strike down scores of State laws which encourage or facilitate public religious expressions. Such rulings against State laws are a direct violation of the words and intent of the very one from whom the courts claim to derive their policy.

        One further note should be made about the now infamous “separation” dogma. The Congressional Records from June 7 to September 25, 1789, record the months of discussions and debates of the ninety Founding Fathers who framed the First Amendment. Significantly, not only was Thomas Jefferson not one of those ninety who framed the First Amendment, but also, during those debates not one of those ninety Framers ever mentioned the phrase “separation of church and state.” It seems logical that if this had been the intent for the First Amendment – as is so frequently asserted-then at least one of those ninety who framed the Amendment would have mentioned that phrase; none did.

        In summary, the “separation” phrase so frequently invoked today was rarely mentioned by any of the Founders; and even Jefferson’s explanation of his phrase is diametrically opposed to the manner in which courts apply it today. “Separation of church and state” currently means almost exactly the opposite of what it originally meant.


        1. Letter of October 7, 1801, from Danbury (CT) Baptist Association to Thomas Jefferson, from the Thomas Jefferson Papers Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D. C. (Return)

        2. Id. (Return)

        3. The Jeffersonian Cyclopedia, John P. Foley, editor (New York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1900), p. 977; see also Documents of American History, Henry S. Cummager, editor (NY: Appleton-Century-Crofts, Inc., 1948), p. 179. (Return)

        4. Annals of the Congress of the United States (Washington: Gales and Seaton, 1852, Eighth Congress, Second Session, p. 78, March 4, 1805; see also James D. Richardson, A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents, 1789-1897 (Published by Authority of Congress, 1899), Vol. I, p. 379, March 4, 1805. (Return)

        5. Thomas Jefferson, Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Albert Ellery Bergh, editor (Washington D. C.: The Thomas Jefferson Memorial Association, 1904), Vol. I, p. 379, March 4, 1805. (Return)

        6. Thomas Jefferson, Memoir, Correspondence, and Miscellanies, From the Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Jefferson Randolph, editor (Boston: Gray and Bowen, 1830), Vol. IV, pp. 103-104, to the Rev. Samuel Millar on January 23, 1808. (Return)

        7. Jefferson, Writings, Vol. VIII, p. 112-113, to Noah Webster on December 4, 1790. (Return)

        8. Jefferson, Writings, Vol. III, p. 441, to Benjamin Rush on September 23, 1800. (Return)

        9. Jefferson, Writings, Vol. XVI, pp. 281-282, to the Danbury Baptist Association on January 1, 1802. (Return)

        10. Richard Hooker, The Works of Richard Hooker (Oxford: University Press, 1845), Vol. I, p. 207. (Return)

        11. Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia (Philadelphia: Matthew Carey, 1794), Query XVIII, p. 237. (Return)

        12. Reynolds v. U. S., 98 U. S. 145, 164 (1878). (Return)

        13. Reynolds at 163. (Return)

        • Random dude

          It’s ironic you make fun of ambulance chaser for being a fake lawyer but quote David Barton, who is not a lawyer, nor a historian. His lies are so bad his publisher dropped him. Try again.

          • afchief

            Nope! I love how liberal and homosexuals love to discredit David Barton because he speaks truth. I see this ALL the time.

            There is NO truth in liberals and homosexuals. They both have reprobate minds. They are both deceived.

          • Cady555

            Where and when did Barton earn his degree in history?

          • Random dude

            Degrees don’t matter the chief, the only thing that matters is that which chief FEELS is true.

          • afchief

            From the anti-liberal conservative pro-american school of truth!

          • Random dude

            Aka your church.

          • Random dude

            Remember how you claim so many people are sheeple? You’re doing exactly what you claim others are doing by simply going along with it and blaming liberals and homosexuals. Well bad news, it’s not just liberals and homosexuals discrediting him. His fellow Christians like Warren Throckmorton and J Brent Walker have done a phenomenal job showing is poor work. You’ve kind of become that which you’re fighting against.

          • afchief

            As a Christian I know liberals and homosexuals have a “reprobate” mind. I know that they also suppress the truth in unrighteousness.

            Because the Word of God is soooooo true. Your posts and others godless liberals that are here is proof!!!

          • Random dude

            And religion surely doesn’t have a history of suppressing knowledge. But hey, keep up the radical shtick. Keep giving the masses more reason to leave religion, you’re doing a good job so far.

          • afchief

            The truth always offends. Does it not?

          • Random dude

            I wouldn’t so much as say it’s offensive as just not part of reality.

          • JGC

            “Because the Word of God is soooooo true.”
            How have you determined what you believe to be the word of god actually is the word of god, afchief?

        • Cady555


    • gizmo23

      See my above post

      • The Last Trump

        Has the Establishment Clause changed?
        No? Then no need.

    • Valri

      Hey, I just noticed that MOST of the things you say are completely crazy.

      • The Last Trump

        It’s ok Muffin.
        We’ve already ascertained that ALL of the things that you say are completely crazy. I particularly enjoy your categorically denying that you support abortion while consistently and painstakingly supporting abortion in hundreds of posts!
        Hee, hee! Classic Val! 🙂

        • Valri

          Poor little muffin head! Still shriveling up with pain over “Bizarro America” and can’t wait to push that RAPTURE button, eh? Well, some of us like it here and don’t have issues giving people the same rights we enjoy based on what sex they are attracted to. Classic Val you say? Classic TRUMPY is being immortalized on another website – can you say the same for me?

          • The Last Trump

            Pick a site, sister! Christian News, Live Action News, WND, etc,etc.
            The angry and intolerant ramblings of “Valium” and her many personas are legendary wherever she posts!
            No need to compile and collect on 3rd part hate sites!?
            They’re already public! Duh!
            And ahhh, yes. FSTDT!
            Fascists Standing Together Demanding Totalitarianism.
            The pinnacle of maturity, open mindedness and love.
            You should be so proud! 🙂

          • Valri

            PICK a site?
            Pish tosh, Trumpy, you’re a hero on ONE of them, the one you love to say “where haters go to hate” even though they’re just laughing at your paranoid schizophrenic delusions.
            It’s my DREAM to be “legendary” amongst a bunch of people who believe the universe it 6000 years old – sign me up, man!
            “Fascists” and “totalitarianism” – tsk tsk Trumpy, thought you said they were LIBERALS, so that’s a contradiction in terms, silly man.

        • WorldGoneCrazy

          Indeed – I loved it when Muffin quoted some unknown person on a wiki site to “prove” that human life does not begin at human conception! Seems like some folks once had opinions that contradicted science about blacks and Jews too. I guess Muffin’s ancestors would have supported racial slavery and Jew gassing based on such opinions.

        • Cady555

          Who is muffin?

    • afchief

      As Christians we know our battle is not against flesh and blood (Eph 6:12) and we can clearly see the battle we are in. God’s word is so true when it comes to people who come to this website spouting their liberal godless ways. They are blinded to truth and living in deception.

      2 Corinthians 4:4 (NASB) in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

      Satan has blinded their minds. They believe lies. They speak lies. They serve the father of lies.

  • Nidalap

    Good job, kids! You’ve learned to stand against tyranny. You’ve done your parents proud! 🙂

    • gizmo23

      Monday morning I’m going to lead my middle school students in a prayer to the Mother Goddess of the Earth. I am going to ask her to keep my students safe from blood thirsty gun toting Christians. Of course this will be OK with you in the name of free speech.

      • Nidalap

        Ha! You Mogwai always did strike one as a bunch of Earth worshipers! Go right ahead. If the parents are cool with it, it’s on them. If not then the repercussions of your actions are on you. I’m pretty sure you’ll be having to deal with a majority of the affected parents as opposed to a group of activists from out of town though! (^_^)

        • gizmo23

          So a majority should tell the minority which religion they will follow? Sounds like ISIS

          • Nidalap

            Sure would, if that were actually happening. Of course, trying to impose one’s ideology on others, threatening with punishment if their will is not obeyed, sounds kinda creepy whether you’re ISIS or FFRF…

          • gizmo23

            Convincing is one thing, forcing is another.

          • Nidalap

            Glad you agree! 🙂

      • afchief

        There is NO separation of church and state. NONE!!! Can you show me where it states that in the 1st amendment?

        “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;”

        • gizmo23

          Thanks for the endorsement

        • Rookheight

          Still making this horrid argument every chance you get, I see…someday maybe you will realize why no legal scholars, or lawyers, ever make your childish argument. Probably not.

          • Ambulance Chaser

            Maybe someday we’ll have peace on Earth.

    • Cady555

      No one is stopping the kids from praying.

      The government employee who controls their practices, playing time and college recommendations cannot tell the kids which religious activities to perform or which god to pray to. So that the kids have religious freedom.

      I suggest checking out the definition of tyranny.

      • Nidalap

        And, since no one is forcing them to pray either, let’s just see where force is being applied here. Ah yes, upon the coach. Yep! Tyranny definition still okay! (^_^)

  • Mark Moore

    Nothing goes together like football, religion and brain damage.

    • Nidalap

      You DO realize it’s becoming more often football, irreligion, and brain damage, right? (^_^)

      • Random dude

        Got any statistics to back that one up?

        • Nidalap

          Hmm…that’s a toughie! Try checking right next to the stats that back up the opposite claim! (^_^)

          • Random dude

            Eh, fair point.

      • Rookheight

        Indeed, as a society we are making slow but steady progress fixing both brain damage and religion.