Atheist Group Claims Auburn's Football Coach Attending Revival Is 'Unconstitutional'
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A prominent atheist group is throwing cold water on an impromptu baptism service at Auburn University.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation is rebuking the Alabama-based college’s football coach, Hugh Freeze, for attending and helping with a revival event, calling his association with the baptism service “unconstitutional.”
In a statement, the FFRF wrote, “These ongoing and repeated constitutional violations at the university create a coercive environment that excludes those students who don’t subscribe to the Christian views being pushed onto players by their coaches.”
A revival is happening tonight in Auburn. People are getting baptized at Red Barn with hundreds of people cheering them on. The baptisms started following an event at Neville arena tonight called Unite. @TheAUPlainsman @AUFAMILY pic.twitter.com/PzEza1UWKz— Kristen Carr (@kristencarrau) September 13, 2023
The atheist group demanded the university “put a stop to religion in its athletic programs.”
Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the FFRF, even called Freeze’s participation an “abuse of power,” arguing, “As coaches, their responsibility lies in guidance on the field, not guiding these students to pews. They should start by firing the team chaplains, whose very presence signals that Auburn University has an inappropriate relationship with Christian evangelists.”
The organization is claiming Freeze has somehow violated the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
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But legal expert Tyson Langhofer, senior counsel and director of the Center for Academic Freedom with the Alliance Defending Freedom, doesn’t believe the FFRF’s argument holds any water.
Langhofer said the atheist group has a “twisted interpretation of the First Amendment.”
“Freedom From Religion Foundation’s twisted interpretation of the First Amendment has the potential to crush both students’ and their coaches’ essential right to live out their faith,” he argued, adding, “Public universities are supposed to be the marketplace of ideas and have an obligation to protect and promote free speech and free exercise of religion.”
The atheist anger comes on the heels of a massive faith-based event that left many “speechless and in awe,” according to CBN News. Last week, more than 5,000 students poured into Auburn’s Neville Arena for a “Night of Worship,” which was followed by an impromptu baptism service at a lake adjacent to the college’s Red Barn venue.
At that event, some 200 students decided to dedicate their lives to Jesus and be baptized.
Jeannie Allen, a best-selling author and popular Christian speaker, delivered a message at the “Night of Worship” and, as the event was ending, heard from a student who wanted to be baptized. She then walked back onto the platform in the arena and asked if anyone else wanted to do the same, and dozens raised their hands.
“So thousands of students left the arena and walked to a lake and a red barn a mile away,” she wrote. “People surrounded the lake till almost midnight hearing the stories of life change and shouting and cheering and praying together. God is moving and He isn’t stopping.”
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