Football Coach Pushing Religion

112 posts / 0 new
Last post
Alissa_Sal's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 years 9 months ago
Joined: 06/29/06
Posts: 6427
Football Coach Pushing Religion

A Georgia high school football coach is being targeted for his team?s religious practices by a non-profit organization that aims to protect the separation between state and church.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation sent a complaint to Walker County Schools Tuesday, accusing Ridgeland High School coach Mark Mariakis of multiple violations of the First Amendment.

The allegations against Mariakis include:
- Holding pre-game meals at a local church, where a ?preacher sermonizes to the players about the Christian religion.?
- Pressuring players to attend a Christian football camp that the players must pay for.
- Leading pre- and post-game prayers.
- Using bible verses on team gear and in motivational speeches.
- Taking the team to a Mormon church and afterwards making fun on the religion within the proximity of Mormon players.

The FFRH concludes the complaint by requesting Walker County Schools investigate and take immediate action to stop the violations. Read the entire complaint here.

Emails to Mariakis, Ridgeland principal Glen Brown and Walker County superintendent Damon Raines were not immediately returned. Walker County Schools confirmed reception of the complaint in released statement.

Mariakis, who survived brain cancer in 2008-2009, is entering his ninth season at Ridgeland. He is 52-36. The Panthers open their season Friday at No. 1 Calhoun.

Update: A Facebook page titled "Support Coach Mariakis" has been created and had nearly 1,400 likes as of Thursday afternoon.

Update: Walker County Schools Superintendent Danny Raines is attending a conference in Macon and will be out of the office until Monday, according to office administrator Janet Cobb. No other comment on the complaint against Mariakis is expected to be released today.

A message left on Mariakis' cell phone Thursday afternoon was not immediately returned.

So, assuming all of the allegations are correct, do you feel this coach was behaving appropriately for a public school employee? If the reverse were true, and it were an atheist coach hosting dinners at atheist meetups, pressuring kids NOT to attend religious camps (or to attend atheist camps, if there were such a thing), making fun of certain students' religious beliefs, et cetera, would that be appropriate? Does it matter that presumably the majority of the kids on the team come from a Christian background themselves?

AlyssaEimers's picture
Offline
Last seen: 3 months 2 weeks ago
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6803

Let me preface this with the fact that DH works in Walker County Schools and personally knows this coach and all of the relevant superintendents.

No one is being pressured into being Christian. Different churches are providing a free meal before games. No one has to go, although almost all do. The meals are not on school property and not an official school function. Free food is free food.

He has a huge amount of community support and most people feel the FFRF should mind their own business.

Alissa_Sal's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 years 9 months ago
Joined: 06/29/06
Posts: 6427

So Bonita, you would be cool with it if this was an atheist coach taking all the kids to free meals at atheist meetups before games, as long as no one is being forced to go?

Also, what about the making fun of the Mormon religion in front of students?

What about putting bible stuff on the players' gear?

My DH is a public school teacher and a big time atheist, but he is very careful to not even really talk about his own feelings about religion in the classroom because a) it's inappropriate and b) it's not his place to try to bring the kids around to his way of thinking. I think most parents of any religion would agree that it's more respectful of him to do it that way. Why is it okay for someone else to do the opposite just because you happen to agree with their religion?

GloriaInTX's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 weeks 2 days ago
Joined: 07/29/08
Posts: 4230

No matter what the charges are, it is no business of The Freedom From Religion Foundation. If there are complaints they should be handled locally between whoever is complaining and the school board. I don't see anywhere that he is forcing players to attend these activities. The churches are donating meals, no one is forcing them to go eat. No one can force players to attend a camp that they are paying for it themselves. If any group could be classified as a hate group it would be the Freedom From Religion Foundation. I wonder why they aren't on the hate group list?

Coaching is also different than teaching. For one thing no one is forced to be on a team, it is a choice they make unlike being in a classroom for a course you are required to take. How exactly is a coach supposed to motivate a team if it doesn't come from his personal experiences and thoughts? He is not forcing the students to agree with him. I would have no problem with an atheist coach sharing his feelings if that is what he draws from for his motivation.

AlyssaEimers's picture
Offline
Last seen: 3 months 2 weeks ago
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6803

"Alissa_Sal" wrote:

So Bonita, you would be cool with it if this was an atheist coach taking all the kids to free meals at atheist meetups before games, as long as no one is being forced to go?

Also, what about the making fun of the Mormon religion in front of students?

What about putting bible stuff on the players' gear?

My DH is a public school teacher and a big time atheist, but he is very careful to not even really talk about his own feelings about religion in the classroom because a) it's inappropriate and b) it's not his place to try to bring the kids around to his way of thinking. I think most parents of any religion would agree that it's more respectful of him to do it that way. Why is it okay for someone else to do the opposite just because you happen to agree with their religion?

He is not taking them to the churches. A better example would be the coach saying some of us are going to meet up at McDonalds before the game. You are welcome to come if you want to but do not have to. The fact that it is happening inside a church is not a big deal. No one has to go. He is just making it known that option is available.

I am sure in hind site that he knows he should not have made fun of any other religion or printed verses on anything.

As for praying before or after games, DH told me that they are student led. You can not tell the students they are not allowed to pray if they want to.

The is in the heart of the Bible belt. It is very culturally normal for there to be prayer before everything.

As an aside, funny we are talking about this when I drove by Ridgeland High School less than an hour ago.

Alissa_Sal's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 years 9 months ago
Joined: 06/29/06
Posts: 6427

"GloriaInTX" wrote:

No matter what the charges are, it is no business of The Freedom From Religion Foundation. If there are complaints they should be handled locally between whoever is complaining and the school board. I don't see anywhere that he is forcing players to attend these activities. The churches are donating meals, no one is forcing them to go eat. No one can force players to attend a camp that they are paying for it themselves. If any group could be classified as a hate group it would be the Freedom From Religion Foundation. I wonder why they aren't on the hate group list?

Coaching is also different than teaching. For one thing no one is forced to be on a team, it is a choice they make unlike being in a classroom for a course you are required to take. How exactly is a coach supposed to motivate a team if it doesn't come from his personal experiences and thoughts? He is not forcing the students to agree with him. I would have no problem with an atheist coach sharing his feelings if that is what he draws from for his motivation.

Wow! A hate group for working to uphold the Constitution! Harsh!

Although I think you're wrong that only people who are part of that community should have any interest in whether or not it's schools are upholding the law, if you read the complaint from the FFRF it says that the FFRF was notified by a "local complainant" so apparently someone in the community does have a problem with it.

I disagree that it would be peachy for an atheist coach to start "preaching" atheism to his high school students (and have a real hard time believing that most Christians would be cool with that either, from my experience as an atheist, let alone an atheist that has influence over your children.)

Listening to what all the coach thinks about religion should not be part of playing football, and people shouldn't have to pick between allowing their kids to play football and allowing their kids to listen to somebody else's religion if they don't want to. Coaches aren't that different from teachers, both are in a position of power and influence over the kids, which is why they have to be particularly careful about what they say and do.

Playing football should be the focus of football. We should respect each other enough to leave each others' children alone when it comes to stuff like this. I won't come around your kids and try to convert them to atheism, you don't come around my kids and try to convert them to your religion. It's just basic decency and respect.

Alissa_Sal's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 years 9 months ago
Joined: 06/29/06
Posts: 6427

"AlyssaEimers" wrote:

He is not taking them to the churches. A better example would be the coach saying some of us are going to meet up at McDonalds before the game. You are welcome to come if you want to but do not have to. The fact that it is happening inside a church is not a big deal. No one has to go. He is just making it known that option is available.

I am sure in hind site that he knows he should not have made fun of any other religion or printed verses on anything.

As for praying before or after games, DH told me that they are student led. You can not tell the students they are not allowed to pray if they want to.

The is in the heart of the Bible belt. It is very culturally normal for there to be prayer before everything.

As an aside, funny we are talking about this when I drove by Ridgeland High School less than an hour ago.

How is he not taking them to church if he's taking them to a church??? LOL

I agree that student led prayers are allowed, but again, assuming the complaint is correct, if he's leading them, I think he's wrong. Just because you're in the bible belt doesn't mean that non-Christians don't have the same rights to not have their kids hassled by other people's religion. Freedom of religion protects from the tyranny of the majority, something you will be glad of if Christians ever find themselves in the minority.

ETA: I also think it's really disingenuous for anyone to pretend like it just so happened that they were hosting dinners at these churches and it has nothing to do with getting these kids to go to church or religion. If they wanted it to be neutral ground, I'm sure there are tons of places they could have gone, like MacDonalds. They picked the church for a reason, and the complaint mentions that there were sermons at the dinners.

AlyssaEimers's picture
Offline
Last seen: 3 months 2 weeks ago
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6803

"Alissa_Sal" wrote:

How is he not taking them to church if he's taking them to a church??? LOL

I agree that student led prayers are allowed, but again, assuming the complaint is correct, if he's leading them, I think he's wrong. Just because you're in the bible belt doesn't mean that non-Christians don't have the same rights to not have their kids hassled by other people's religion. Freedom of religion protects from the tyranny of the majority, something you will be glad of if Christians ever find themselves in the minority.

ETA: I also think it's really disingenuous for anyone to pretend like it just so happened that they were hosting dinners at these churches and it has nothing to do with getting these kids to go to church or religion. If they wanted it to be neutral ground, I'm sure there are tons of places they could have gone, like MacDonalds. They picked the church for a reason, and the complaint mentions that there were sermons at the dinners.

He is not physically taking them to a church, their parents do. Are you thinking they all meet at the school, and the school buses them to the church? This is not the case. They all either meet at the church for dinner if they want to (The parents drive their own kids in their own cars) or the school. Then a bus takes any kids that happen to be at the church to the school. This is no different than a bus rout having several children meet at one place before they are picked up.

I will agree that this is a deeply religious area, but I do not think this coach was forcing religion on anyone. Anything done was strictly voluntary. I was at a graduation for this school last year. There was a prayer to open graduation, but it was done by a student.

AlyssaEimers's picture
Offline
Last seen: 3 months 2 weeks ago
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6803

I also wanted to add for those of you who might not have ever been from the South, that there are thousands of churches here. Many have very nice gyms and facilities that they rent out. There are many community events that happen at these churches that have nothing to do with religion. It is just a rented hall. I am not saying that is what happened here, but I did want you to see other perspectives. Concerts, graduations, plays all happen at churches because they have the space.

wlillie's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 month 2 hours ago
Joined: 09/17/07
Posts: 1796

Making fun of the other religion is the only thing I can see that he did wrong. The football team isn't hosting the meals; the churches offer up food to the players of the team. They aren't the only ones that do it and no one is forced to go. I have a feeling the complaint came from a google search made by the group. I am starting to agree with Gloria; they get closer and closer to a hate group every time I read about them. If the dinners are in a church it'd be stupid to go and then complain about the sermons. What kind of idiot attends a voluntary function in a church to get the free food and then reports the people providing the food for a sermon? Seriously?

It's not tyranny, it's spaghetti with a serving of religion you can pass on.

read more- the complaint was made by a 2011 graduate? Huh. Sounds like he's mad about not getting a scholarship to me.

Alissa_Sal's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 years 9 months ago
Joined: 06/29/06
Posts: 6427

"AlyssaEimers" wrote:

He is not physically taking them to a church, their parents do. Are you thinking they all meet at the school, and the school buses them to the church? This is not the case. They all either meet at the church for dinner if they want to (The parents drive their own kids in their own cars) or the school. Then a bus takes any kids that happen to be at the church to the school. This is no different than a bus rout having several children meet at one place before they are picked up.

I will agree that this is a deeply religious area, but I do not think this coach was forcing religion on anyone. Anything done was strictly voluntary. I was at a graduation for this school last year. There was a prayer to open graduation, but it was done by a student.

I don't care if he is physically driving them there, he is arranging it with the churches and then encouraging the kids to go. That is something that, as a public school employee, it is illegal (and frankly unethical) for him to do. As a coach and an employee of a public school he simply cannot be seen as endorsing a religion. It's against the law, and it's a crappy thing to do. You don't mess with people's kids. You just don't.

Alissa_Sal's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 years 9 months ago
Joined: 06/29/06
Posts: 6427

"wlillie" wrote:

Making fun of the other religion is the only thing I can see that he did wrong. The football team isn't hosting the meals; the churches offer up food to the players of the team. They aren't the only ones that do it and no one is forced to go. I have a feeling the complaint came from a google search made by the group. I am starting to agree with Gloria; they get closer and closer to a hate group every time I read about them. If the dinners are in a church it'd be stupid to go and then complain about the sermons. What kind of idiot attends a voluntary function in a church to get the free food and then reports the people providing the food for a sermon? Seriously?

It's not tyranny, it's spaghetti with a serving of religion you can pass on.

read more- the complaint was made by a 2011 graduate? Huh. Sounds like he's mad about not getting a scholarship to me.

You don't think that breaking the law and violating the First Amendment of the Constitution and abusing his position of influence over these kids might be considered wrong? Whether or not the people of this particular school district like it, it's against the law for a public school employee to endorse a religion. Arranging to have kids eat and at a church and get preached at is very clearing endorsing a religion.

In what way is the FFRF a "hate group?" They stand up for people who are having their first amendment rights trampled on.

Also, why would him "being mad about not getting a scholarship" translate to him making accusations about the coach? Wouldn't the scholarships come from the colleges? Also, it's not like the accusations are false as far as I can tell. It sounds like the coach actually did those things, so if he did them, and they are wrong and against the law, why do we automatically have to suspect that the kid has some sort of nefarious ulterior motive other than "someone violated my first amendment rights and that's not okay." The fact that he's a 2011 grad makes me think that this shows that not everyone on the team is okay with it, but they probably feel social pressure to go along with it at least until they graduate, which is exactly why this stuff shouldn't happen.

AlyssaEimers's picture
Offline
Last seen: 3 months 2 weeks ago
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6803

"Alissa_Sal" wrote:

I don't care if he is physically driving them there, he is arranging it with the churches and then encouraging the kids to go. That is something that, as a public school employee, it is illegal (and frankly unethical) for him to do. As a coach and an employee of a public school he simply cannot be seen as endorsing a religion. It's against the law, and it's a crappy thing to do. You don't mess with people's kids. You just don't.

I am in shock here. I completely and wholly disagree. I also have never heard of anyone having that opinion before. The first amendment does not strip you of the right to be religious. Just because you are a teacher, does not make you a non person without opinions. I went to a public school in NY (a very liberal place) growing up. Schools were allowed to advertise things that happened at churches. One time there was an emergency that my high school had to be evacuated. We were evacuated to a local church. No one thought it was a big deal that instead of letting several hundred kids freeze to death, they brought them to a church until their parents could pick them up.

wlillie's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 month 2 hours ago
Joined: 09/17/07
Posts: 1796

We have two atheists at work. Both of them are comfortable enough in our workplace to make fun of the others for believing. We have on guy who is supposed to be Mormon because his wife is, a Catholic, a Episcopalian, and two Baptists. If they make me uncomfortable I just ask to have the conversation changed. We've discussed the many prayers that you go through for every event for work and they both have said they can sit their quietly if it makes us happy. Neither of them have ever felt like the position of power that the prayer leaders has over them made them feel like they were trying to be changed.

You and I both work in a male-dominated career field (and I think a lot of other debaters do too). Do you call up the human resources or equal opportunity line every time you hear something that is offensive to women or do you ignore them or call them out on it? Because I do the second two. If it bothers me, I say something. There is no reason for an outside organization that has nothing to do with me or my co-workers to get involved.

I do think they are a hate group.
Pages 1 and 2 are too nasty to post.
Out of the Closet Campaign

ftmom's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 years 8 months ago
Joined: 09/04/06
Posts: 1538

I agree with Alissa Sal, just dont have much time to post right now. What happens in a workplace, or between adults is totally different then what happens in a school, especially when one of the major players is a teacher or coach. I dont think the two are really comparable.

wlillie's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 month 2 hours ago
Joined: 09/17/07
Posts: 1796

I do. We're military which is just like one big football team. Except we have more rules and less flexibility in following the rules. If we can deal with it without calling a hate group in, then why can't the parents of whatever student is bothered by this coach?

Alissa_Sal's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 years 9 months ago
Joined: 06/29/06
Posts: 6427

To Bonita - I agree, the first amendment doesn't strip you of your right to be a religious person. What is does mean that you can't use your official authority in a government setting (such as your position as a coach in a publically funded school) to push or endorse your religion. I am genuinely shocked that you have never heard of that before.

I would argue that church buildings can be used for other things than just churches (for example, evacuations, or polling places.) But if they are actively promoting their religion or preaching to you while you're there, then that would be the first amendment violation in relation to a public school setting. I would say that having a coach organize a football event at a church that is being used as a church is a lot different scenario than a school evacuating to a church in an emergency situation.

I'm sure there are places all over the US that have historically violated the First Amendment. That doesn't mean that it isn't valid, it just means that in the past it wasn't enforced as often.

AlyssaEimers's picture
Offline
Last seen: 3 months 2 weeks ago
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6803

How is it a big deal if the people meet at a church. This is a very small community. Everyone there knows everyone else. Just because someone is a teacher or a coach they can't arrange a fun get together before the game? It is on his own time in a non school building. If these meetings were taking place on school property or were required, I can see how there would be a problem, however, they are not required and are not happening on school property. A private citizen can do whatever he wants on his own time. If other people are there also, why is that anyone else's business? If a student felt threaten or that they were being pressured all they would have needed to do would be to call the school and say so. Knowing several of the people involved I can tell you with surety, if a student or parent were to call up a school in this county and tell them they felt their religious freedom was being violated, the school would take that very seriously and deal with it immediately. Calling in an outside organization was completely not necessary.

Alissa_Sal's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 years 9 months ago
Joined: 06/29/06
Posts: 6427

Lillie, it sounds like you aren't arguing that what the coach is doing isn't wrong, but just that you don't like that the complainant called in the FFRF (will have to read your link here in a minute before I can respond to whether or not I think they should be called a hate group)

Whether or not the complainant "should have" called in outside representation (which is within his rights to do, no matter who they are), I still think that he has a good point that what the coach is doing is wrong.

wlillie's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 month 2 hours ago
Joined: 09/17/07
Posts: 1796

"Alissa_Sal" wrote:

Lillie, it sounds like you aren't arguing that what the coach is doing isn't wrong, but just that you don't like that the complainant called in the FFRF (will have to read your link here in a minute before I can respond to whether or not I think they should be called a hate group)

Whether or not the complainant "should have" called in outside representation (which is within his rights to do, no matter who they are), I still think that he has a good point that what the coach is doing is wrong.

No, I don't think he was doing anything wrong (except the Mormon thing). If he was asked to stop (prayers and sayings; the church thing is just a huge ridiculous amount of crazy IMHO) and continued, I'd feel differently. If the kid had told anyone in a posiition to fix it before going to these people, I'd feel differently.

Should the majority (betting that he was the only one on the team to be bothered) have to skip a free meal at a church because one kid doesn't want to listen to the sermon? Or should we use common sense and just tell people "No" if we don't want to do something?

Alissa_Sal's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 years 9 months ago
Joined: 06/29/06
Posts: 6427

"AlyssaEimers" wrote:

How is it a big deal if the people meet at a church. This is a very small community. Everyone there knows everyone else. Just because someone is a teacher or a coach they can't arrange a fun get together before the game? It is on his own time in a non school building. If these meetings were taking place on school property or were required, I can see how there would be a problem, however, they are not required and are not happening on school property. A private citizen can do whatever he wants on his own time. If other people are there also, why is that anyone else's business? If a student felt threaten or that they were being pressured all they would have needed to do would be to call the school and say so. Knowing several of the people involved I can tell you with surety, if a student or parent were to call up a school in this county and tell them they felt their religious freedom was being violated, the school would take that very seriously and deal with it immediately. Calling in an outside organization was completely not necessary.

Bonita, he's not just a private citizen, he was a high school coach using his official position as the coach to influence the kids under his care to his religion. It doesn't matter that it wasn't on school time; school employees can't just leave their authority as coach or teacher at the door when the bell rings, it doesn't work that way. Believe it or not these policies are put in place to protect both the students and your rights as a parent. This time it's a Christian, so you agree with what he is trying to do, but that doesn't change that it's still a violation.

Alissa_Sal's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 years 9 months ago
Joined: 06/29/06
Posts: 6427

"wlillie" wrote:

No, I don't think he was doing anything wrong (except the Mormon thing). If he was asked to stop (prayers and sayings; the church thing is just a huge ridiculous amount of crazy IMHO) and continued, I'd feel differently. If the kid had told anyone in a posiition to fix it before going to these people, I'd feel differently.

Should the majority (betting that he was the only one on the team to be bothered) have to skip a free meal at a church because one kid doesn't want to listen to the sermon? Or should we use common sense and just tell people "No" if we don't want to do something?

First, we don't know what steps if any the student took to resolve it with the school. Second, it doesn't matter because he is within his legal rights to do exactly what he did. Third, the coach is the one that needs to use common sense and not put the players in this situation in the first place in clear violation of the law. If it was all just about a free meal then they should have kept it neutral. Please note that I would have zero qualms if churches wanted to donate meals to the team as long as the team ate them somewhere neutral (like, say, the school!) and the church didn't actually come in and preach at them.

Offline
Last seen: 3 months 4 weeks ago
Joined: 04/12/03
Posts: 1763

"Alissa_Sal" wrote:

So, assuming all of the allegations are correct, do you feel this coach was behaving appropriately for a public school employee? If the reverse were true, and it were an atheist coach hosting dinners at atheist meetups, pressuring kids NOT to attend religious camps (or to attend atheist camps, if there were such a thing), making fun of certain students' religious beliefs, et cetera, would that be appropriate? Does it matter that presumably the majority of the kids on the team come from a Christian background themselves?

No, he's not behaving appropriately for a school employee.

"GloriaInTX" wrote:

No matter what the charges are, it is no business of The Freedom From Religion Foundation. If there are complaints they should be handled locally between whoever is complaining and the school board. I don't see anywhere that he is forcing players to attend these activities. The churches are donating meals, no one is forcing them to go eat. No one can force players to attend a camp that they are paying for it themselves. If any group could be classified as a hate group it would be the Freedom From Religion Foundation. I wonder why they aren't on the hate group list?

Coaching is also different than teaching. For one thing no one is forced to be on a team, it is a choice they make unlike being in a classroom for a course you are required to take. How exactly is a coach supposed to motivate a team if it doesn't come from his personal experiences and thoughts? He is not *forcing* the students to agree with him. I would have no problem with an atheist coach sharing his feelings if that is what he draws from for his motivation.

Nobody is talking about force. It has to do with his authority and influence over the students.

Is the coach *forcing* the team to attend these Christian-based function? No. Is he exerting undue influence? The article makes it sound like it. Does it really matter who complained and when? This has made at least one (former) student uncomfortable. There are comments on this thread judging his motives for complaining. If we can say such negative things about a stranger, what kind of retaliation would he have faced from his teammates or the coach if he had complained at the time?

In very religious communities it can feel like your only options are to fit in or be an outcast. The team knows if you are there. The coach knows if you are there. Based on the article, it sounds like there is pressure on the team to attend these functions.

I'll have to look up the SCOTUS decision on church/state, but I'm not sure you can hold a school-related function at a church where a sermon is going on. Yes, the church is providing free meals and if that is where it ends, that is one thing. Adding a sermon mixes the two.

Having bible verses on team gear is definitely a no-no.

Would it be okay if the coach was Muslim?

Oh, and if this coach can't motivate the team without using a bible, he has no business coaching at a public school.

AlyssaEimers's picture
Offline
Last seen: 3 months 2 weeks ago
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6803

Lilly - I agree

Alissa - I disagree. DH works for the same school system. The guys boss is also DH's boss. When DH is home away from school he is 100% free to voice his opinion to anyone and everyone. We go to church. Some of the students that DH works with (DH is staff, not a teacher or coach) go to the same church. While at church, there is nothing at all wrong with DH talking about spiritual things to students who go to both his same school and church. It would be completely different if he was talking about spiritual topics on school property. One reason we live a good distance away from DH's school because in that town you can not go anywhere without seeing several students.

As for a student being upset about a student led prayer or other such things, as I already said, if just one student complained to the school it would have been dealt with. They very much have a "The students are always right" attitude. Any complaint is always taken very seriously.

Offline
Last seen: 3 months 4 weeks ago
Joined: 04/12/03
Posts: 1763

"Alissa_Sal" wrote:

Bonita, he's not just a private citizen, he was a high school coach using his official position as the coach to influence the kids under his care to his religion. It doesn't matter that it wasn't on school time; school employees can't just leave their authority as coach or teacher at the door when the bell rings, it doesn't work that way. Believe it or not these policies are put in place to protect both the students and your rights as a parent. This time it's a Christian, so you agree with what he is trying to do, but that doesn't change that it's still a violation.

Just wanted to add, it was still a school function no matter where it happened.

wlillie's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 month 2 hours ago
Joined: 09/17/07
Posts: 1796

"ethanwinfield" wrote:

Just wanted to add, it was still a school function no matter where it happened.

That's just not true. Our soccer team had school functions and we hung out with our coach in non school-function areas too. We all went to the Renaissance Fair together and our coach enjoyed himself there in a way he wouldn't have been able to if we had been at a school function. Very gray area, but if the school didn't sponsor it, then it's not a school function.

AlyssaEimers's picture
Offline
Last seen: 3 months 2 weeks ago
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6803

"ethanwinfield" wrote:

Just wanted to add, it was still a school function no matter where it happened.

Why is this exactly? If a bunch of your co-workers all wanted to get together at a bar before work, is it a work function? If a bunch of kids who all go to the same school all join girl scouts, does that make girl scouts an official school function? If several of the students all decided to get together at a church before a game, who cares? If several students all decided to a hockey game together, does that make the hockey game a school function? What has to happen to make it an official school function? I would say it would need to be either on campus, or a field trip where a bus both picked the students up and brought them there, and took them back. The school has no say over what the students do on their own time.

Offline
Last seen: 3 months 4 weeks ago
Joined: 04/12/03
Posts: 1763

"AlyssaEimers" wrote:

Lilly - I agree

Alissa - I disagree. DH works for the same school system. The guys boss is also DH's boss. When DH is home away from school he is 100% free to voice his opinion to anyone and everyone. We go to church. Some of the students that DH works with (DH is staff, not a teacher or coach) go to the same church. While at church, there is nothing at all wrong with DH talking about spiritual things to students who go to both his same school and church. It would be completely different if he was talking about spiritual topics on school property. One reason we live a good distance away from DH's school because in that town you can not go anywhere without seeing several students.

As for a student being upset about a student led prayer or other such things, as I already said, if just one student complained to the school it would have been dealt with. They very much have a "The students are always right" attitude. Any complaint is always taken very seriously.

There's no way around the fact that this is still a school function. Yes, attendance is voluntary, but so is attendance at other school functions such as graduation, field trips, etc. If I chaperone an over-night band trip to the Rose Parade and hold a "voluntary" bible study in the hotel lobby, it doesn't matter that we aren't on school grounds or I am not getting paid for my time. I am still mixing the two.

AlyssaEimers's picture
Offline
Last seen: 3 months 2 weeks ago
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6803

"ethanwinfield" wrote:

There's no way around the fact that this is still a school function. Yes, attendance is voluntary, but so is attendance at other school functions such as graduation, field trips, etc. If I chaperone an over-night band trip to the Rose Parade and hold a "voluntary" bible study in the hotel lobby, it doesn't matter that we aren't on school grounds or I am not getting paid for my time. I am still mixing the two.

What makes it a school function? That several students were there? That the coach was there?

And as for your specific example - I did in High School go on an overnight band trip to the Rose Bowl Parade in school. (Just thought that was funny). I also would have thought nothing at all for a few people to get together in a room for a bible study. Certainly students (under age ones) got together and drank.

ETA - The band trip was a school function because 1, it was sanctioned by the school, and 2, because we went there with the school. If you were to before all this mess to call the school and ask them if the dinners were an official school activity they would have said no.

AlyssaEimers's picture
Offline
Last seen: 3 months 2 weeks ago
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6803

I just thought of a different example. Prom is an official school activity. Even if it happens of campus. Here they are a lot of times at a local hotel. If a student arranged an after party upstairs in a room (Also often happens), is that after party also an official school function? All kinds of stuff happens at the after party that would not be allowed at a school function. Just because something happens before or after a school function that has lots of students at it does not mean it was school sponsored or school sanctioned.

ftmom's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 years 8 months ago
Joined: 09/04/06
Posts: 1538

I would say that all your examples are of activities arranged by the students. However, if an activity is arranged, or run through/announced by, the school or a teacher/coach then it is a school activity. So if the team itself arranged the dinners and invited the coach to come then its not a school activity, but if the coach announced the dinner and invited the team to come to a dinner thrown in their honer, then that is different. It sounds like semantics, but makes a lot of difference when it comes to power dynamics.

AlyssaEimers's picture
Offline
Last seen: 3 months 2 weeks ago
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6803

One more example. School senior trip. Where I went to school each year the seniors went on a senior trip. They had chaperones and went on school buses. Many times they went to Florida. There was no educational point to the trip. Just a reward for getting to graduation. My older brother went on his senior trip. It was full of drinking and sex. I found this morally objectionable. I did not go on my senior trip even though the vast majority of my class mates did. I did not feel pressured to go even though there was much excitement from those going.

Offline
Last seen: 3 months 4 weeks ago
Joined: 04/12/03
Posts: 1763

"wlillie" wrote:

That's just not true. Our soccer team had school functions and we hung out with our coach in non school-function areas too. We all went to the Renaissance Fair together and our coach enjoyed himself there in a way he wouldn't have been able to if we had been at a school function. Very gray area, but if the school didn't sponsor it, then it's not a school function.

Well, there's this:

Then a bus takes any kids that happen to be at the church to the school. This is no different than a bus rout having several children meet at one place before they are picked up.

"AlyssaEimers" wrote:

Why is this exactly? If a bunch of your co-workers all wanted to get together at a bar before work, is it a work function?

Not something I would recommend.

If a bunch of kids who all go to the same school all join girl scouts, does that make girl scouts an official school function?

No.

If several of the students all decided to get together at a church before a game, who cares? If several students all decided to a hockey game together, does that make the hockey game a school function? What has to happen to make it an official school function? I would say it would need to be either on campus, or a field trip where a bus both picked the students up and brought them there, and took them back. The school has no say over what the students do on their own time.

Because it isn't a group of students deciding. It's a coach influencing the students to go hear a sermon.

Then a bus is picking them up and taking them to the game.

If this was a location other than a church, would it be okay? Let's say the team are all seniors. All over 18. There's a girly club that doesn't serve alcohol, but does offer plenty for 18+ to look at. Coach says, "Hey, 'Girls, Girls, Girls' down on Main is offering us free dinner and a 'show.' Then the bus will pick us up and take us to the game! Who's in?" Or a tattoo shop? "Hey, everyone is over 18. Let's go down to Ink'd and get matching game tattoos! Then the bus will take us to the game."

wlillie's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 month 2 hours ago
Joined: 09/17/07
Posts: 1796

"ethanwinfield" wrote:

Well, there's this:

Not something I would recommend.

No.

Because it isn't a group of students deciding. It's a coach influencing the students to go hear a sermon.

Then a bus is picking them up and taking them to the game.

If this was a location other than a church, would it be okay? Let's say the team are all seniors. All over 18. There's a girly club that doesn't serve alcohol, but does offer plenty for 18+ to look at. Coach says, "Hey, 'Girls, Girls, Girls' down on Main is offering us free dinner and a 'show.' Then the bus will pick us up and take us to the game! Who's in?" Or a tattoo shop? "Hey, everyone is over 18. Let's go down to Ink'd and get matching game tattoos! Then the bus will take us to the game."

Yes. If this hypothetical bus was taking them to someplace they are legally allowed to go, then they should only get on the damn bus if they want to go!!!!!

eta-Is the bus even a school bus? Or is it the churches' bus?

AlyssaEimers's picture
Offline
Last seen: 3 months 2 weeks ago
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6803

I would say yes, when I went to school there were several younger male teachers that hung out with older students out of school. It was allowed as long as they were not their students. (A teacher that taught 9th grade science could hang out with a senior who was not in his own class, but could not hang out with his own student)

Offline
Last seen: 3 months 4 weeks ago
Joined: 04/12/03
Posts: 1763

"AlyssaEimers" wrote:

One more example. School senior trip. Where I went to school each year the seniors went on a senior trip. They had chaperones and went on school buses. Many times they went to Florida. There was no educational point to the trip. Just a reward for getting to graduation. My older brother went on his senior trip. It was full of drinking and sex. I found this morally objectionable. I did not go on my senior trip even though the vast majority of my class mates did. I did not feel pressured to go even though there was much excitement from those going.

Again, student led. Don't you think if it was one of the chaperones who had initiated this (orgy in the suite!) it would be totally different?

wlillie's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 month 2 hours ago
Joined: 09/17/07
Posts: 1796

We only had one sponsored graduation party. ALL of the local churches got together and rented the VFW and went all out making sure there was plenty of stuff for kids to do. There was transportation from the high school to the VFW with the school buses and the church buses. Are you guys saying that this shouldn't be allowed just in case one kid doesn't want to go? Seriously?

eta-The teachers ran some of the activities and were on call in case someone was at a non-sponsored party and wanted to get picked up. Fliers with numbers and everything handed out in homeroom. This is a bad thing because someone might feel uncomfortable with the pamphlets available about each church?

eta2= OT- they also valet parked the cars of those attending and took the alcohol out of them before letting the students leave. Really sucked for me because they replaced it with Dr. Pepper and I toted a cooler full of soda a little over a quarter of a mile uphill in heels and didn't realize the switch until we got to the top.

Offline
Last seen: 3 months 4 weeks ago
Joined: 04/12/03
Posts: 1763

"wlillie" wrote:

We only had one sponsored graduation party. ALL of the local churches got together and rented the VFW and went all out making sure there was plenty of stuff for kids to do. There was transportation from the high school to the VFW with the school buses and the church buses. Are you guys saying that this shouldn't be allowed just in case one kid doesn't want to go? Seriously?

Not at all. The issue is the sermon. If hearing a religious sermon was a condition of going, that's where the problem comes in.

eta-The teachers ran some of the activities and were on call in case someone was at a non-sponsored party and wanted to get picked up. Fliers with numbers and everything handed out in homeroom. This is a bad thing because someone might feel uncomfortable with the pamphlets available about each church?

eta2= OT- they also valet parked the cars of those attending and took the alcohol out of them before letting the students leave. Really sucked for me because they replaced it with Dr. Pepper and I toted a cooler full of soda a little over a quarter of a mile uphill in heels and didn't realize the switch until we got to the top.

Pamphlets available are not the same thing has hearing a sermon on it. You can take one or not.

Alissa_Sal's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 years 9 months ago
Joined: 06/29/06
Posts: 6427

"AlyssaEimers" wrote:

Lilly - I agree

Alissa - I disagree. DH works for the same school system. The guys boss is also DH's boss. When DH is home away from school he is 100% free to voice his opinion to anyone and everyone. We go to church. Some of the students that DH works with (DH is staff, not a teacher or coach) go to the same church. While at church, there is nothing at all wrong with DH talking about spiritual things to students who go to both his same school and church. It would be completely different if he was talking about spiritual topics on school property. One reason we live a good distance away from DH's school because in that town you can not go anywhere without seeing several students.

As for a student being upset about a student led prayer or other such things, as I already said, if just one student complained to the school it would have been dealt with. They very much have a "The students are always right" attitude. Any complaint is always taken very seriously.

Yes, your DH is allowed to do anything (pretty much) while he is at home, or while at church. As is mine. Because at home, and at church, he is not acting as a representative of the school. Whenever he is acting as a representative of the school, he has to obey school policy and the law, whether he is physically on school grounds or not. As does mine.

wlillie's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 month 2 hours ago
Joined: 09/17/07
Posts: 1796

"ethanwinfield" wrote:

Not at all. The issue is the sermon. If hearing a religious sermon was a condition of going, that's where the problem comes in.

Pamphlets available are not the same thing has hearing a sermon on it. You can take one or not.

But that's not distinguished in the Freedom of religion mandate. Either it has to be completely free of religion or not if you want to bring these events into it. Right? Otherwise people could keep their nativity scenes in public areas because you can look or not look. Right? And they could have the ten commandments in courts because you can look or not look. Right? And they could say prayers before the game and you can participate or not participate. Right? Because common sense tells us that we live in a free country and if someone is making you do something against your belief system, you can tell them no. Right?

Alissa_Sal's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 years 9 months ago
Joined: 06/29/06
Posts: 6427

"wlillie" wrote:

But that's not distinguished in the Freedom of religion mandate. Either it has to be completely free of religion or not if you want to bring these events into it. Right? Otherwise people could keep their nativity scenes in public areas because you can look or not look. Right? And they could have the ten commandments in courts because you can look or not look. Right? And they could say prayers before the game and you can participate or not participate. Right? Because common sense tells us that we live in a free country and if someone is making you do something against your belief system, you can tell them no. Right?

You're mixing up private and public in these examples. People can keep nativity scenes in public, on their own private land, it just can't be on publically owned land. People can say prayers before games, the whole crowd if they want, it just can't be school led.

Common sense tells me that private citizens are and should be very free to do what they want in regards to religion. Publically funded organizations are not. I don't know what is so hard or anti-common sense for us all agree to follow the dictates of our own religions at home, and focus on school and football at school and football games.

Offline
Last seen: 3 months 4 weeks ago
Joined: 04/12/03
Posts: 1763

"wlillie" wrote:

But that's not distinguished in the Freedom of religion mandate. Either it has to be completely free of religion or not if you want to bring these events into it. Right? Otherwise people could keep their nativity scenes in public areas because you can look or not look. Right? And they could have the ten commandments in courts because you can look or not look. Right? And they could say prayers before the game and you can participate or not participate. Right? Because common sense tells us that we live in a free country and if someone is making you do something against your belief system, you can tell them no. Right?

You're mixing different issues here. The churches rented the VFW for your senior activities. Merely having those pamphlets would be no more an endorsement of a religion/church than a teacher wearing a Star of David.

People can keep their nativity scenes in public.

Displaying the 10 Commandments depends. Is it being displayed to endorse a religion?

STUDENTS can lead prayers before a football game. The COACH cannot.

It's really not a black and white issue. The 1st amendment is pretty complex when it comes to the establishment clause. Purpose and intent matter.

Offline
Last seen: 6 months 2 weeks ago
Joined: 08/17/04
Posts: 2256

I think it is wrong that he is promoting his religion to his team and definitely for making fun of others to his team. That is the most disgusting thing about this.

And many schools will bar you from graduation activities if you are found at an after party in the hotel. My senior prom the hotel would not allow any room rentals even for those over 18 and even if you had someone else book it if they saw you leaving the prom you weren't allowed to stay.

Offline
Last seen: 3 months 4 weeks ago
Joined: 04/12/03
Posts: 1763

"Alissa_Sal" wrote:

You're mixing up private and public in these examples. People can keep nativity scenes in public, on their own private land, it just can't be on publically owned land. People can say prayers before games, the whole crowd if they want, it just can't be school led.

Common sense tells me that private citizens are and should be very free to do what they want in regards to religion. Publically funded organizations are not. I don't know what is so hard or anti-common sense for us all agree to follow the dictates of our own religions at home, and focus on school and football at school and football games.

It depends:

The inclusion of religious symbols in public holiday displays came before the Supreme Court in Lynch v. Donnelly (1984), and again in Allegheny County v. Greater Pittsburgh ACLU (1989). In the former case, the Court upheld the public display of a cr?che, ruling that any benefit to religion was "indirect, remote, and incidental."

In Allegheny County, however, the Court struck down a cr?che display, which occupied a prominent position in the county courthouse and bore the words Gloria in Excelsis Deo, the words sung by the angels at the Nativity (Luke 2:14 in the Latin Vulgate translation).

At the same time, the Allegheny County Court upheld the display of a nearby menorah, which appeared along with a Christmas tree and a sign saluting liberty, reasoning that "the combined display of the tree, the sign, and the menorah ... simply recognizes that both Christmas and Hanukkah are part of the same winter-holiday season, which has attained a secular status in our society."

AlyssaEimers's picture
Offline
Last seen: 3 months 2 weeks ago
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6803

"Alissa_Sal" wrote:

Common sense tells me that private citizens are and should be very free to do what they want in regards to religion. Publically funded organizations are not.

Ahh, but this was not a publicly funded event. It was a group of people attending an event before a game. I can concede that there should have been more discretion on school property. However, there was nothing whatsoever wrong with the kids eating at a church before a game if they so wanted.

AlyssaEimers's picture
Offline
Last seen: 3 months 2 weeks ago
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6803

"ethanwinfield" wrote:

STUDENTS can lead prayers before a football game. The COACH cannot.

I am not sure, but I would be very surprised if the coach himself was leading in prayer. I think it is always a student that prays. I have been to many events in this county (Not all at that school, as DH works in a different school, but they are all part of the same system) and many start with prayer, but it is always a student who prays.

Offline
Last seen: 3 months 4 weeks ago
Joined: 04/12/03
Posts: 1763

"AlyssaEimers" wrote:

Ahh, but this was not a publicly funded event. It was a group of people attending an event before a game. I can concede that there should have been more discretion on school property. However, there was nothing whatsoever wrong with the kids eating at a church before a game if they so wanted.

If that's what this was, you're right. That's not what this was. It was dinner with the coach at the church listening to a sermon, and boarding a bus to attend a public HS football game.

BTW, I may have missed who funded this bus?

Offline
Last seen: 3 months 4 weeks ago
Joined: 04/12/03
Posts: 1763

"AlyssaEimers" wrote:

I am not sure, but I would be very surprised if the coach himself was leading in prayer. I think it is always a student that prays. I have been to many events in this county (Not all at that school, as DH works in a different school, but they are all part of the same system) and many start with prayer, but it is always a student who prays.

Just going by the OP:

The allegations against Mariakis include:
- Holding pre-game meals at a local church, where a ?preacher sermonizes to the players about the Christian religion.?
- Pressuring players to attend a Christian football camp that the players must pay for.
- Leading pre- and post-game prayers.
- Using bible verses on team gear and in motivational speeches.
- Taking the team to a Mormon church and afterwards making fun on the religion within the proximity of Mormon players.

Even if that part is incorrect and the students led the prayer, the other stuff would still not be okay - especially the last one. Religion aside, why would this type of bullying be encouraged or even condoned?

AlyssaEimers's picture
Offline
Last seen: 3 months 2 weeks ago
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6803

I went and did a Google search for local articles (this is all over the local news and all over our FB). This is the only place I have heard anything about preaching happening during the meals. Everything I have seen on the news or heard IRL has said that it was only a free meal, and that there was no preaching. I was not there, so I do not know. I also apologise. In doing my own research I realized I was wrong. They did shuttle the kids to the different churches. I still maintain that if it is just a free meal, it does not matter if it happens in a church or in a hotel. Just the fact that they are eating in a church building is not a violation of church and state.

The whole situation is so crazy. There was no need for this to get so out of hand. If whoever had had a problem with this had just come to the school, the situation would have been resolved without getting the entire country involved. I do believe the FFRF has gotten completely out of hand.

Offline
Last seen: 3 months 4 weeks ago
Joined: 04/12/03
Posts: 1763

"AlyssaEimers" wrote:

I went and did a Google search for local articles (this is all over the local news and all over our FB). This is the only place I have heard anything about preaching happening during the meals. Everything I have seen on the news or heard IRL has said that it was only a free meal, and that there was no preaching. I was not there, so I do not know. I also apologise. In doing my own research I realized I was wrong. They did shuttle the kids to the different churches. I still maintain that if it is just a free meal, it does not matter if it happens in a church or in a hotel. Just the fact that they are eating in a church building is not a violation of church and state.

The whole situation is so crazy. There was no need for this to get so out of hand. If whoever had had a problem with this had just come to the school, the situation would have been resolved without getting the entire country involved. I do believe the FFRF has gotten completely out of hand.

My memory is kind of foggy, but did we have a debate a long time ago about a high school holding their graduation at a church and a student/s/ACLU filed suit over it? If so, I can't remember what the outcome was.

AlyssaEimers's picture
Offline
Last seen: 3 months 2 weeks ago
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6803

I do not remember a debate like that, but it could have been before my time. I do not see why it would be a problem though, if it was just renting the building? There is a very large (Several thousand members) church here that rents out it auditorium all the time.

Pages