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Atheist Group Objects to Religiously Charged High School Football Program

For Immediate Release


Merrill Miller, 202-238-9088 ext. 105, merrillmiller@americanhumanist.org

Monica Miller, 202-238-9088 ext. 120, mmiller@americanhumanist.org

(Washington, D.C., Aug. 12, 2014)—Today the American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center sent a letter to school officials at Hall County School District and Chestatee High School in Gainesville, Georgia, on behalf of a concerned citizen, objecting to the unconstitutional infusion of religion into the high school football program.

The letter claims that football coaches at Chestatee High School have regularly led and participated in prayer with students, and provides a photograph of the activity as evidence. Additional claims, also supported by photographs, show that official team documents, workout sheets, and pregame banners have featured prominent references to Bible verses. The letter warns that these actions violate the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

“When a teacher or coach leads or participates in prayer with students, the prayers become sponsored by the school,” said Monica Miller, an attorney with the Appignani Humanist Legal Center. “The cases make clear that public schools must not even give the appearance of taking a position on religious belief, yet in this program we see ongoing biblical verses and references to religion. This evidences a complete disregard for the First Amendment rights of all students.”

The letter demands that the football coaching staff stop leading and taking part in team prayers and that the school remove all biblical references and religious messages from team documents and other materials.

A copy of the letter can be viewed here.


Founded in 1941 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., the American Humanist Association (AHA) works to protect the rights of humanists, atheists, and other non-religious Americans. The AHA advances the ethical and life-affirming philosophy of humanism, which—without beliefs in any gods or other supernatural forces—encourages individuals to live informed and meaningful lives that aspire to the greater good of humanity.

Special thanks to the Louis J. Appignani Foundation for their support of the Appignani Humanist Legal Center.