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Published On: Thu, Aug 28th, 2014

Florida school replaces chaplains with ‘life coaches’ after threat of lawsuit

Orange County Public Schools in Florida have changed a longstanding tradition of allowing local pastors to volunteer their time as high school football chaplains. The religious leaders have now been replaced by “life coaches.” 
 
A Florida school district caves to a Freedom From Religion threats  photo Georgia high school team praying before a game/ American Humanist Association

A Florida school district caves to a Freedom From Religion threats photo Georgia high school team praying before a game/ American Humanist Association

County spokesperson Shari Bobinski said to Fox News in an Aug. 27 article. “They cannot have chaplains or ministers before or after games – leading prayer. Students are more than welcome to lead their own prayers but our faculty and staff cannot be involved nor can we bring in an outside chaplain.”

 
The school policy has also been changed so that teachers and coaches are prevented from participating “in a visible way with the players during student-led prayers,” a memorandum to school staff states. 
 
The changes are in response to threats of legal action from the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF). 
 
“It is inappropriate and unconstitutional for the district to offer a Christian minister unique access to befriend and proselytize student athletes,” FFRF attorney Andrew Seidel wrote to the school district.
 
Orange County has decided to use “life coaches” in place of the local pastors on grounds that the life coaches would not use any biblical inspiration to guide student athletes. 
 
Bible verses and references to the Bible are banned on school property. Bible verses are also prohibited on clothing produced by the school. And songs with religious lyrics may not be used in school-related videos.
 
Pastor Troy Schmidt, Olympia High School’s football chaplain of seven years, said that he had never tried to convert students.
 
“I would speak to the team before the game and give them wisdom, inspiration. I’d be available if there’s any crisis.”
 
His congregation had even gotten involved with the football team, preparing large meals for the players and coaches before games. “Faith, family, football – have always gone together. Here’s an organization like this coming in and trying to tear that out,” Schmidt said. 
 
“We’re not going to give up. We’re not going to give up on the team.”
 
A true credit Fox for unearthing the story:

The Christian cleansing of Orange County Public Schools did not make national headlines. Their decision to banish the chaplains garnered no attention. And that’s why Pastor Schmidt decided to speak up.

“We can’t stay silent any longer,” he told me. “We can’t allow them to move into these areas that traditionally have always been a part of the football program.”

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About the Author

- Writer and Co-Founder of The Global Dispatch, Brandon has been covering news, offering commentary for years, beginning professionally in 2003 on Crazed Fanboy before expanding into other blogs and sites. Appearing on several radio shows, Brandon has hosted Dispatch Radio, written his first novel (The Rise of the Templar) and completed the three years Global University program in Ministerial Studies to be a pastor. To Contact Brandon email [email protected] ATTN: BRANDON

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