Effingham County, Georgia — A middle school baseball coach in Georgia recently resigned after a parent complained to the principal that he had a Bible verse citation embroidered on the team ball caps.
Kyle Houston serves as the physical education teacher at Ebenezer Middle School in Rincon. He also was the coach for the school’s baseball team — that is, until last Wednesday.
The situation began when an unnamed parent, whose child is on the team, became angered when her son came home with a ball cap that had “Phil. 4:13” engraved on the back. She contacted the school principal to lodge a complaint. She also called the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), an atheist activist organization that seeks to separate God and government.
“Our client was incredibly upset,” attorney Andrew Seidel told reporters.
The principal of the school then reportedly sought counsel from the Board of Education and correspondingly met with Houston about the issue.
However, before any action was taken, Houston decided to resign as coach.
“Just so there wouldn’t be any issues with someone not liking what I did,” he told television station WTOC. “I wasn’t fired as a teacher. I wasn’t asked to resign. I voluntarily did that because I didn’t want it to hurt or interfere with the kids or things that were going on.”
“Of course I let the kids down, because I was looking forward to coaching the season,” he continued. “It’s a let down, but it was something that needed to be done.”
Houston said that it was the students’ idea to embroider the Scripture on their hat. According to reports, three eighth grade students approached him about the concept, and the coach thought it was a great idea.
“Everybody on the team said that’s what they wanted to do,” Houston said.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation, however, contends that the caps are not permitted under the law.
“The law is very clear on this,” Seidel stated. “They can take their children to church. They can send their children to Sunday school, but it is not something that belongs in a public school.”
Houston is taking full responsibility for the matter, as believes that he should have discussed the issue with the principal before moving forwarding with having the caps embroidered.
“I appreciate everything everyone has said, supporting the Philippians 4:13, but it was something where I overstepped my bounds, not doing what I was supposed to,” he commented. “I have to follow protocol. I violated that. It wasn’t my intention. My intention was to encourage the kids.”
Nonetheless, FFRF isn’t stopping at Houston’s resignation. It has reportedly been in talks with the Effingham School District about ensuring that church and state remain separated at the schools within its jurisdiction, as Seidel states that the upset mother was also angered by word that Houston had been praying with the team.
“In both cases, those are unconstitutional,” he asserted. “That’s imposing your beliefs on everyone on that team.”
However, now the public seems to be troubled over the entire ordeal as much discussion erupted on Facebook in wondering what happened to Coach Houston and why he no longer is coaching for the team.
He remains a physical education teacher at Ebenezer Middle School.