ICC Note: Coaches and teachers at public schools across the United States are dealing with ever-increasing pressure to keep their faith hidden from students and avoid joining students in any kind of religious activity. Football coach Tom Brittain at Tempe Preparatory Academy in Arizona has received a two week suspension from coaching for joining his team in prayer. As one parent put it, referring to a recent incident in professional football in the United States ““Ray Rice gets two games for cold-cocking his fiancé and Tom Brittain gets two games for praying.”
9/25/2014 United States (Christian News) – A high school football coach in Arizona has been suspended for two weeks for joining his team in prayer.
Tom Brittain is the head varsity coach for Tempe Preparatory Academy in Tempe, a state funded charter school. According to reports, Brittain recently asked one of the players on his team to lead the group in prayer, and then joined the team as they thanked the Lord following a winning game.
Headmaster Dr. David Baum suspended Brittain for two games for his participation, asserting that he had violated the so-called separation of church and state.
“He is a man who likes to pray and I don’t object to that,” he told local television station KPHO. “Just, he can’t do that with our students. That’s the only prohibition.”
Baum is standing by his decision to suspend Brittain.
“I think I preserved the religious freedom of our students, who have to have the liberty to be able to practice or not practice their religion on our campus, without interference by adults,” he said.
But others state that it was wrong for Brittain to be punished over prayer.
“I think it’s outrageous,” area resident Keith Wibel told reporters. “Ray Rice gets two games for cold-cocking his fiancé and Tom Brittain gets two games for praying.”
Wibel was among those who wore a t-shirt and/or brought signs to last week’s homecoming game to show their support for the coach. Wibel’s shirt read “Let Tom Coach.” Students also tied a poster to the stands during the game, which read, “We believe in Coach Brittain.” Personal messages were also written on the poster, such as “I love you. God bless you, coach,” and “Thank you.” Some students drew a cross or shared Scripture.