National Organization Says Coach Praying is Illegal - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

National Organization Says Coach Praying is Illegal

Updated:
Cape Henlopen High School Football Coach Bill Collick was recently seen in a picture seemingly bowing his head as his team participated in a prayer. (Photo: WBOC) Cape Henlopen High School Football Coach Bill Collick was recently seen in a picture seemingly bowing his head as his team participated in a prayer. (Photo: WBOC)

LEWES, Del.- Cape Henlopen High School Football Coach Bill Collick was recently seen in a picture seemingly bowing his head as his team participated in a prayer. Prayer circles like these can be seen at many sporting games across the country, but one organization has told the school district that it could face legal consequences if it does not put an end to this practice. 

The Freedom From Religion Foundation wrote a three-page letter to the office of Cape Henlopen Superintendent Robert Fulton, detailing the group's position against coach participation in prayer. The letter, written by attorney Elizabeth Cavell, referenced various court cases from across the country, which she said demonstrated the illegality of coach prayer. 

"The coach was participating in or leading the students in prayer," she said. "And so that's a pretty clear establishment clause violation. So we got in touch with the district to let them know." 

The foundation did not file any lawsuits against the school district. However, the letter suggested inaction could lead to legal consequences.

"Cape Henlopen School District must take action to ensure that coaches do not lead, organize, invite, encourage, or participate in prayers with teams," the letter said. "Coaches must be informed of their legal obligations and school administrators should be directed to monitor school events to ensure compliance." 

WBOC reached out to the superintendent's office multiple times on Thursday, but Fulton declined to comment. His office has not indicated whether or not policies will change because of the letter. 

WBOC also reached out to the office of Bill Collick, but he did not return any calls. 

At the First Baptist Church in Lewes, Pastor David Monroe said that the letter "bordered on ridiculousness" since the coach was not leading the prayer, but rather was just participating in it by bowing his head. 

"I think if the coach has the view of just listening as the students are leading it," he said. "Certainly he isn't participating in the sense that he is ruling what happens. Or ruling what goes on. He's just simply there." 

The letter referenced a lawsuit titled "Doe Versus Duncanville Independent School," in which the court found it unconstitutional for a basketball coach to participate in a prayer circle. Cavell suggested cases like these were enough precedence to make the Cape situation illegal. 

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