Freedom From Religion Foundation Targets Clemson University Over Football Coach’s Alleged Promotion of Christianity; Demand that Chaplaincy Position be Removed

Coach Dabo Swinney (Streeter Lecka)
Coach Dabo Swinney (Streeter Lecka)

The Freedom From Religion Foundation has sent a letter of complaint to Clemson University, citing “constitutional concerns about how the public university’s football program is entangled with religion.”

According to the foundation, Clemson football coach Dabo Swinney has promoted a culture in the program that violates constitutional stipulations of the separation of church and state.

A spokesman for the athletic department declined to comment on the letter. Cathy Sams, the university’s chief public affairs officer, said her department has not completed its review of the letter but said Swinney hasn’t forced his religion onto his players.

“I can’t comment on any of the specifics in the letter or any of the specific concerns,” Sams said. “No one is required to participate in any religious activities related to the football program. It’s purely voluntary. Religion and faith is a big part of Coach Swinney’s personal beliefs, but it is in no way required. There is no mandatory participation.”

The foundation said it had submitted an open records request in February and reviewed emails and published articles.

The foundation, a national nonprofit educational charity based in Madison, Wis., says it is the nation’s largest association of atheists and agnostics. According to Elliott, the organization does not intend to infringe on Swinney’s beliefs, but to ensure that the players’ constitutional rights are protected.

The foundation has recommended the elimination of Clemson’s chaplaincy position, currently held by former Clemson player James Trapp. It contends that Swinney and Trapp have used their positions in the program to proselytize, by arranging Bible studies, organizing devotionals and distributing Bibles and other religious materials.

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SOURCE: Mandrallius Robinson
The Greenville News

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