The University of Colorado’s new head football coach may want to engage in “religious exercises” with the team’s members and staff, but a group that supports the separation of church and state wants the university to censor any such activities.
In a letter, last week to the University of Colorado Boulder Chancellor Phil DiStefano, the Freedom From Religion Foundation alleged that Sanders had been engaging in “inappropriate and unconstitutional actions” by “engaging in religious exercises with players and staff members.”
Sanders only took over as Colorado’s coach in December, but the letter from FFRF specifically mentions that period.
“It is our understanding that on Dec. 20, a staff member led other staff members in a Christian prayer to start an official meeting. More egregiously, on Jan. 16, Coach Sanders directed a staff member to lead players and coaches in Christian prayer before a team meeting.”
FFRF’s letter read in part
The atheist group in the letter singled out one of Coach Prime’s prayers with the football team.
The letter asserted that numerous legal precedents, including a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, prohibited such religious activities in educational settings and suggested that student-athletes may feel pressured to participate even if doing so conflicts with their religious convictions.
Sanders has purportedly received “training” and “guidance on the boundaries in which players and coaches may and may not engage in religious expression,” according to the University of Colorado’s response to FFRF’s letter, which was sent on Feb. 1.
The university also asserted that Sanders was “very receptive to this training and came away from it with a better understanding of the University of Colorado’s policies.”
Due to the demands of the FFRF letter and the response from the University of Colorado, Sanders is facing a dilemma he never had to experience while coaching the football team at Jackson State University.