Flag on the play: Non-profit secular group stops Colorado’s unconstitutional prayer practice

Amongst many things, Colorado head football coach Deion Sanders is an unapologetic Christian. He is a man of faith and often brings up his beliefs in public appearances, daily on his social media, as well as to his team. It seems that the latter has drawn the attention of the Freedom From Religion Foundation ( FFRF), a non-profit secular organization.

According to a letter sent to the Colorado Chancellor, Phil DiStefano, on December 20, 2022 a member of Coach Sanders’ staff led other staff members in a Christian prayer to begin an official team meeting . The letter also outlines a similar incident on January 16, 2023 in which Coach Prime instructed a staff member to lead players and coaches in Christian prayer before a team meeting; additionally the letter alleges that while at Jackson State , he mandated that players participate in a call and response prayer of which an apparent transcript of the religious was included:

Repeat after me… Lord, I love you. Lord, I thank you. Lord, I magnify you. Lord, I glorify you. Keep us, guide us, lead us, protect us, direct us. Thank You, Lord. Thank You, Lord. Thank You, Lord for everything, for all things, for more to come. Without You, I wouldn’t be a thing! A thing! A thing! In Jesus name. Amen.

Soon after receiving the letter from FFRF, the Office of Institutional Equity, and Compliance met with Coach Prime, according to the University of Colorado Executive Vice Chancellor and Chief Operating Officer Patrick t. O’Rourke, provide guidance on the nondiscrimination policies, including guidance on the boundaries in which players and coaches may and may not engage in religious expression,” 

In a response to the FFRF O’Rourke said, “Coach Sanders was very receptive to this training and came away from it with a better understanding of the University of Colorado’s policies and the requirements of the Establishment Clause.”

“We can’t coach Deion Sanders on sports-related matters, but we can certainly offer him corrective lessons on the Constitution. We trust that our communication to the University of Colorado has been conveyed to him and that he understands students should not have to pray to play.”

FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor.

This may be a hard pill to swallow for Christians but the FFRF was correct. Be it Coach Prime, a high school teacher, once cannot lead or require any type of prayer while operating in their offficial capacity. It is an endorsement of a single religion over others, a clear violation of the Establishment Clause of the Constitution. The First Amendment Clause prohibits government actions that unduly prioritises one religion over another, religion over non-religion, or vice-vers. A misunderstanding of this tenet, had lead to erroneous talking points of religion has been taken out of schools. This is not the case, the practices can be engaged in as long as it is voluntary and student lead

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