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Posts Tagged ‘Separation of church and state

America's craziest Christian football coach declares run for Congress

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davedaubenmire

Dave Daubenmire is the most successful high school football coach in America at running his offense out of the wingnut formation.

Since 1999, when he got canned from London (Ohio) High School following a lawsuit over his bringing his extreme religion into the classroom and the locker room, Daubenmire has become a right-wing media star, with multiple appearances in his ever-present cross cap on such standard who-loves-America-the-most shows such as Hannity.

Daubenmire, who as football coach at Fairfield Christian Academy in Lancaster, Ohio, can preach to the converted all he wants without the mean ol’ ACLU getting in the way, wants to fight the evil godless government from within, having filed to run as a Republican for the House of Representatives seat held by Democrat Zack Space, one of Daubenmire’s many mortal enemies.

From the Chillicothe Gazette:

Daubenmire said the time is right for a conservative grass-roots campaign to succeed, especially in a district dominated by Republican presidential candidate John McCain in the 2008 election.

“I could run as an independent, but I don’t want to do that,” Daubenmire said [Jan. 28] on his radio show on WLRY, in Rushville. “I’m convinced whoever wins the Republican primary will be the next elected representative in the 18th District.

“(Space) is not even a Blue Dog. We have the most traitorous Democrat, Zack Space, in that position.”

Daubenmire used his radio show to blast the president and the policies of the Democrat-controlled Congress.

“I don’t think we understand the depth of the evil that is involved in the American government,” Daubenmire said.

“We watch the president of the United States. If he is under demonic control, we watch him on TV and we are hypnotized and drawn to him and how articulate he is. We say he’d never do that or that would never happen. What are the limits of the depths of evil of the evil one? How evil could his minions be?”

The … coach said on the radio show he was still undecided about entering the race, saying he would be assaulted by news media and portrayed as an idiot.

“The question I’m struggling with, I guess, I don’t know, is who better than me to grab the sword of the spirit and go into the devil’s lair and swing that sword,” Daubenmire said.

Here is video of Daubenmire swinging his sword in a sit-in outside Space’s home office in Dover, Ohio. He vowed to sit there until Space had a town hall meeting on health system reform, specifically one involving Daubenmire personally. (Space did have meetings, though none involving the coach.)

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If Daubenmire sounds like he’s moved beyond Christianity into delusion, it’s because he has. In his personal bio, Daubenmire notes he started his Pass the Salt ministry after a great victory over the American Civil Liberties Union. It sued the London City Schools on behalf of parents complaining that Daubenmire required players to participate in team prayer, and preached during practice and during class. The case was settled the day before it was supposed to go to court in 1999, and Daubenmire was fired. Here is how Daubenmire recalls the ending:

After a two year battle for his 1st amendment rights and a determination to not back down, the ACLU relented and offered coach an out of court settlement. God honored his stand and the ACLU backed off. Coach’s courageous stand, an inspiration to Americans everywhere, demonstrated that the ACLU can be defeated.

And here is the ACLU’s recollection, in a release whose title begins ACLU Declares Victory:

The settlement, which ACLU attorneys have been quietly negotiating with lawyers for the district and the coaches since early last month, prohibits future acts of religious indoctrination and establishes a system for reporting violations of the agreement to the United States District Court in Columbus [also, for two years any violations had to be reported to the ACLU]. …

[T]he London School Board voted unanimously to accept the terms offered by the ACLU.

Daubenmire also never mentioned that he sued the complaining parents for defamation — and lost.

Of course, Daubenmire has a long history of using the ACLU’s scorn and other people’s disapproval as the fuel for his holy fire, and I don’t mean the one he set when he publicly burned a copy of the Koran. Like his good buddy Alan Keyes, Daubenmire uses his runs for office (he also ran unsucessfully for the Ohio State Board of Education in 2004) to bring more attention to his own activities, and get himself more time on Fox News.

In fact, Daubenmire, as he hinted above, is running as a Republican out of expediency, not out of love for the party. He probably is insulted that the Chillcothe Gazette referred to him as a conservative, given one of his jeremiads: “Let Conservatism Die.”

Meanwhile, the modern “conservative” movement awakened by Barry Goldwater, carried up the mountain by Ronald Reagan, preached over the airwaves by Limbaugh and Hannity [editor’s note: great way to guarantee future apperances on their programs], and destroyed by GW Bush and the Republican Party is still being called “conservatism” by those on both the winning and the losing side.

… [C]onservatives went “compassionate” (which really meant compromised) and sold Christianity down the river; Only Christians aren’t smart enough to realize it. They still vote the way “conservatives” Hannity and Limbaugh tell them to, because, after all, they are “conservatives” too. Christianity and conservativism are not the same thing.

… You wouldn’t have to look very far into the “conservative” Republican Party to find the fornicators, covetous, idolators, railers, drunkards, or extortioners. Just look at the guest list at a Republican fundraiser. Those “conservatives” are the one’s [sic] that our Christian leadership are breaking bread with inside the big Republican tent. Is it any wonder they have lost? Has the Republican Party compromised their position to advance the standards of Jesus or has the Christian leadership compromised on the standards of our Savior to advance Republican candidates? … Let conservatism die.

I’m not sure the coach’s offensive activities will get him elected, but they certainly will score points with a certain amount of the electorate — the ones who enjoy watching their politics run out of the wingnut formation.

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God and cheerleader at Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High II: Goodbye to the Good Book

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I’d say the Catoosa County, Ga., school board’s decision tonight (Oct. 13) to uphold its superintendent’s ban on football cheerleaders quoting Bible verses on banners is evidence that prayer doesn’t work, except that there could have been people praying the ban was upheld.

From the Chattanooga (Tenn.) Times Press:

Catoosa County’s Christian community turned out in force tonight in Fort Oglethorpe, Ga., to call for lifting a ban on Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School cheerleaders’ Bible-verse banners, but school board members said they’re sticking to the decision.

“We adopted a resolution on October 1 acknowledging that (schools Superintendent Denia) Reese had taken the correct action, and that resolution stands,” Board of Education Chairman Don Dycus said.

Mr. Dycus spoke after board members met in executive session with attorney Renzo Wiggins.

Four people addressed the board about the ban during the public comments section of the evening meeting’s agenda, and the executive session and announcement followed immediately.

n140892811343_2526This verse makes more sense regarding the cheerleaders’ struggles than it does the football team, especially when you add the next verse: “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.  So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God, who has saved us and called us to a holy life… .” By the way girls that’s 2 Timothy, not just Timothy.

Quick background in case you missed yesterday’s post: the Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High football cheerleaders wrote Bible verses on the banner that players ran through as their introduction to the field at games. A parent, divinely inspired by a law class she took through fundamentalist Liberty University, complained to the superintendent that the Bible verses had to go because they violated separation of church and state and could be “divisive” to the community, the first time in recorded history someone used their Liberty University education to separate church and state. The superintendent grudgingly agreed, and ordered the Bible be stricken from the banners.

Really, this was an amazing case of public school authorities balancing freedom of religion with freedom from religion. The superintendent said cheerleaders could pray and quote the Bible all they wanted outside the stadium, and she was sympathetic to it as a Christian. But she and the board also balanced, well, if not the needs and desire of nonreligious students, the needs and desire of not getting their asses sued off while property taxes plummeted.

The meeting itself, with only four people speaking, doesn’t sound like it was a crazy quilt of crazy religious. You get the sense everyone kind of knew this was where things were heading. Interesting, because a Facebook support site for the cheerleaders, run by 2004 LFO High class president Brad Scott, notes that a similar effort to take down the Bible-verse banners was beaten back five years ago.

I sent an email to Scott earlier today to get his thoughts on things, particularly whether he or anyone else would try to launch a legal challenge to the board to get the Bible signs back. I haven’t heard back. It wouldn’t surprise if Scott did so, if nothing else but for the attention. A local newspaper article from fall 2003 notes that Scott was already active in Republican politics and someday wanted to be a U.S. Senator. As a high school senior, Scott was Catoosa County chair of Johnny Isakson’s U.S. Senator re-election campaign. He’s already had one unsuccessful run for state office. Scott, if he can find some partners, just could be the kind of guy to take his 15,000-member Facebook support group as a sign from God he should go to court and fight this.

I’ll let you know what he says, if he says anything.

God and cheerleader at Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High

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If you attend one school board meeting this year, it looks like the one to attend will be Tues., Oct. 13’s regularly scheduled session of the Catoosa County School Board in Ringgold, Ga. That’s because the meeting will feature a large crowd of people always known to liven up an otherwise staid board or town hall meeting — religious fundamentalists.

They’re descending on Ringgold because over the last few weeks, a story has developed over Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High’s varsity football cheerleaders writing Bible verses on the huge tissue-paper poster the players run through for their spirited pregame entry, instead of their writing something less controversial like “Go Warriors,” “We’re 14th in the State in SAT Scores,” or “Meet Me After the Game for a Hand Job.”

3921854829_4e2645cf92How to strip a Bible verse of its context. The 10th chapter of Ezra starts like this: While Ezra was praying and confessing, weeping and throwing himself down before the house of God, a large crowd of Israelites—men, women and children—gathered around him. They too wept bitterly. Then Shecaniah son of Jehiel, one of the descendants of Elam, said to Ezra, “We have been unfaithful to our God by marrying foreign women from the peoples around us. But in spite of this, there is still hope for Israel. Now let us make a covenant before our God to send away all these women and their children, in accordance with the counsel of my lord and of those who fear the commands of our God. Let it be done according to the Law. Rise up; this matter is in your hands. We will support you, so take courage and do it.” So Ezra rose up and put the leading priests and Levites and all Israel under oath to do what had been suggested. And they took the oath.

This case of religion in public school sports is a bit of an oddball because the local resident who pointed out the possible illegality of the sign was not a hard-core atheist or someone else with a religious bone to pick. It was a parent who had taken a law class at the Jerry Falwell-founded Liberty University, and who had picked up the lesson through that religiously sympathetic institution that the cheerleaders’ signs could violate separation-of-church-and-state laws and be potentially divisive in the community.

Also a bit of an oddball, the superintendent, instead of sending the Holy Wrath of the Lord on all who would desecrate the cheerleaders’ sign, ordered no more Bible verses on the field. Denia Reese’s statement is a testament, no pun intended, to how a school official can grudgingly balance her personal beliefs and the rights of others:

“I regret that we had to ask the LFO cheerleaders to change the signs used in the stadium prior to football games. Personally, I appreciate this expression of their Christian values; however, as Superintendent I have the responsibility of protecting the school district from legal action by groups who do not support their beliefs.”

On the surface, the upcoming school board meeting appears to be a tribute to Christian passive-aggressiveness. From the Facebook page of those organizing a rally at the meeting:

This is not a political rally! This is simply a call to Christians to come out and pray for our school system and leaders who are making decisions. Also, to show our support for the sign.

We are going to continue to pray that some how the cheerleaders will get their signs back!

Several members of the community will be speaking to the board at 6 PM during public participation. We will gather for prayer outside of the board room at 7 PM.

Still, the way any public meeting goes, whether it’s about religion or not, there should be some fire and brimstone brought to the microphone stand. Hopefully, the school board stands firm. Like the superintendent, it can be as personally sympathetic as it wants. It can talk about what a good Christian community the school represents. It can talk about how the hand of Satan is behind the sign being taken away. But what the school board can’t do is give its blessing, no pun intended, that the sign return.

The superintendent set up a compromise where a big ol’ Bible verse sign can be put up before any steps onto school grounds to see a game. Hey, that’s great. But she and the board knows that if that sign goes back up on the field, a lawsuit is sure to follow, especially now that this case has gotten nationwide attention. It’s the same old story — nobody is stopping you from praying privately and on your own time that Jesus helps you smite the opposition. Just don’t make everyone pray with you.

Written by rkcookjr

October 12, 2009 at 12:14 am

Parent ticked that high school football coach gave players a holy water break

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David Jason Stinson is facing criminal charges in part because it’s suspected his denying water caused a player to die. Now another Kentucky football coach, a little bit south of Stinson’s Louisville, has put himself at legal risk for giving his players too much water in an attempt to give them eternal life.

From the Louisville Courier-Journal, which by now must have a full-time high school coach legal writer:

The head football coach at Breckinridge County High School took about 20 players on a school bus late last month to his church, where nearly half of them were baptized, school officials say.

The mother of one player said her 16-year-old son was baptized without her knowledge and consent, and she is upset that a public school bus was used to take players to a church service — and that the school district’s superintendent was there and did not object.

“Nobody should push their faith on anybody else,” said Michelle Ammons, whose son, Robert Coffey, said Coach Scott Mooney told him and other players that the Aug. 26 outing would include only a motivational speaker and a free steak dinner.

Two other parents, however, said in interviews that their sons told them that Mooney had said the voluntary outing to Franklin Crossroads Baptist Church in Hardin County would include a revival.

Mooney, contacted by phone, said school district officials instructed him not to comment.

But Superintendent Janet Meeks, who is a member of the church and witnessed the baptisms, said she thinks the trip was proper because attendance was not required, and another coach paid for the gas.

Meeks said parents weren’t given permission slips to sign but knew the event would include a church service, if not specifically a baptism. She said eight or nine players came forward and were baptized.

“None of the players were rewarded for going and none were punished for not going,” Meeks said.

David Friedman, general counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky, said in an interview that the trip would appear to violate Supreme Court edicts on the separation of church and state — even if it was voluntary and the school district didn’t pay for the fuel.

“If players want to attend the coach’s church and get baptized, that’s great,” Friedman said. But a coach cannot solicit player attendance at school, he said, noting, “Coaches have great power and persuasion by virtue of their position, and they have to stay neutral.”

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A little football-style baptism.

Neither the ACLU nor the Liberty Counsel, a self-described religious rights group quoted as saying the coach did nothing wrong, are involved in the dispute — but you know that’s going to change soon enough.

As the article notes, in March the U.S. Supreme Court — not the one with Sonia Sotomayor on it — “rejected an appeal from a high school football coach in New Jersey who wanted to bow his head and kneel during prayers led by his players, despite a school district policy prohibiting it.”

The fight in the Kentucky case is going to be over whether any school employee can invite a student or player to a church without parental permission without violating church-state separation, or whether they can even do so at all, given the possible coercive nature of the invitation (for example, what if a football coach demoted a player who didn’t go?).

Perhaps Hardin County Schools needed a mandate from the state superintendent to have kids opt out of the church service, like the first-in-the-nation order he barked to local districts to give parents the option of not allowing their children to allow today’s Barack Obama speech to schools on the importance of furthering the People’s Godless Socialist Revolution of 2008.

You know, if Michelle Ammons did want to bring in the ACLU to sue the school, she might have a case. The story, intentionally or not, paints a picture of a coach, superintendent and church willing to — what’s the popular term these days? — indoctrinate children behind their parents’ backs.

[Superintendent] Meeks said she would have sought the consent of parents for the baptism of students if they had been “7 or 8 or 9” years old. But she didn’t think it was necessary for the players who are “16 or 17.”

She said that if Robert’s parents didn’t know that the outing was going to include a revival service it was because “he apparently was not forthcoming with his parents.”

The church’s pastor, the Rev. Ron Davis, said that he requires minors to obtain their parents’ consent to be baptized, but he added: “Sometimes 16 year olds look like 18 years. We did the best we could.”

He said the event on Aug. 26 “was a great service” and that attendance by the players was strictly voluntary.

“I trust the coach 100 percent,” he said of Mooney. “He is a fine young man and he is sure not going to manipulate anyone.” …

[Ammons] said she was prepared to drop the matter until she found out that Meeks attended the service. She said she consulted a lawyer in Elizabethtown but hasn’t decided what action she will take.

Certainly for many evangelicals, converting souls is an important part of their religion. That is not always a bad thing. But trying to convert children as you squeeze out their parents is treading on dangerous ground. If you don’t believe me, ask anyone involved in the case of Muslim-turned-Christian-runaway Rifqa Bary.