• April 16, 2024

A high school football coach in Georgia, Isaac Ferrell, faced criticism for conducting a baptism on school grounds for some players. Weeks later, he was fired by Tattnall County High School, according to Superintendent Kristen Waters. Waters emphasized that the dismissal was unrelated to the baptism but stemmed from an incident after a November 3 game, without providing specific details.

In a statement to NBC affiliate WSAV, Waters stated, “The safety and security of our students is paramount to Tattnall County Board of Education,” explaining that the decision was based on an investigation into an incident occurring after the football game on November 3. The district sought a new head football coach aligned with the best interests of the students.

While Waters didn’t name Ferrell in the statement, WSAV identified him. Ferrell has not commented on his termination.

Prior to his firing, Ferrell had been criticized by the Freedom From Religion Foundation for organizing the baptism on October 23. In a video shared on the football team’s Facebook page, a pastor baptized players on school grounds. The foundation accused Ferrell of abusing his position, considering it a constitutional violation and calling for an investigation to end school-sponsored religious coercion.

A parent, Latifa Johnson, expressed pride in her son’s decision to participate in the baptism, discovered through the team’s Facebook post. However, the Freedom From Religion Foundation argued that public school coaches, like Ferrell, should refrain from intertwining their religious beliefs with team activities, citing students’ First Amendment rights.

Following Ferrell’s termination, Chris Line, a staff attorney with the foundation, released a statement expressing satisfaction that the district was seeking a new coach who would adhere to constitutional duties and avoid religious coercion.

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