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Published On: Thu, Mar 26th, 2015

Freedom From Religion group targets NCAA basketball teams for having chaplain

The Freedom From Religion Foundation has sent letters to five more public universities that employ religious leaders for their basketball teams. The teams on the radar screen: Louisville, Wichita State, Maryland, Oklahoma, Kansas and Virginia.

“Public school athletic teams cannot appoint or employ a chaplain, seek out a spiritual leader for the team, or agree to have a volunteer team chaplain because public schools may not advance or promote religion,” FFRF Staff Attorney Andrew Seidel told the universities.

FFRF Co-President Dan Barker noted that giving these chaplains secular titles compounds the violation by blurring the line between a legitimate position and an abuse of that position to “[help] basketball players learn how to love God,” as Wichita State chaplain Steve Dickie put it.

One in three Americans under the age of 30 identifies as nonreligious, FFRF points out, making it very likely these chaplains are imposing their religion on students who are not religious and just want to play basketball. “Abolishing the team chaplaincy will not alter student athletes’ ability to pray, but it will prevent some student athletes from feeling coerced into participating in prayers to a deity they may not believe in,” wrote Seidel.

Here’s the breakdown of the school’s religious violations per FFRF:

  • Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino has allegedly established his friend, Father Ed Bradley, as the basketball team’s “unofficial chaplain.”
  • WSU’s Steve Dickie, are associated with Nations of Coaches, a religious organization that provides “character coaches” and chaplains to basketball programs. The group’s logo is a whistle with a cross on it, and bible verses abound on its website.
  • University of Maryland employs pastor Donnell Jones as a team chaplain – associated with Nations of Coaches.
  • Oklahoma University lists Scott Thompson as its “Character Coach.” – associated with Nations of Coaches.
  • University of Virginia employs Brad Soucie as Director of Player Development. Soucie spoke at Liberty University about the “significance of men finding their identity in Jesus instead of success, work, or any other source.”
  • Kansas University also has a chaplain, Wayne Simien. Simien quit the NBA to pursue a “passion . . . for Christian ministry and youth athletics,” and has said his goal is “to impact the lives through sports and with the message of Jesus Christ.”
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FFRF also requested financial records and policies relating to religion in athletics from all of the colleges.

Three of the schools, Wichita State, Louisville, and Oklahoma, are still alive in the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16.

This post was taken from the FFRF press release: read here

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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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  1. March 30 Religion and Atheism News Digest | Evangelically Atheist says:

    […] Freedom From Religion Group Targets NCAA Basketball Teams For Having Chaplain […]

  2. Tamey says:

    Those who cry tolerance are the most intolerant of all. They want deny Christians the Constitutional right of Freedom of Religion. Instead they wrongfully read it as freedom from religion. Atheist terrorist is all they are. Bullies who don’t know how to deal with not getting their way. I bet they are the type that go around to bakeries and flower shops just to ignite a fire so that they can stand by and watch business burn down due to their harassment.

    And when is this government going to start taking a stand for Christians? When will Obama stop catering to the Muslim nations who only wish to do the same thing as these Atheist terrorist, and instead, stand for Christian rights and bring Pastor Saaid Home

    • Akage says:

      If they take a stand only for Christians then they are violating the 1st amendment to The Constitution. If you’d like to live in a country where government favors only one religion then try Malaysia, Indonesia, or Iran.

      • Brandon Jones says:

        Shouldn’t the schools be asked to provide a counselor or religious representative that player instead of banning them all together? I’d rather see the school provide spiritual and moral support for the Buddhist, Muslim and atheist than eliminate the support for all. Isn’t that what makes America special? unique? and great?

  3. March Madness Foul: The Freedom From Religion Atheist Group Attacks Top NCAA Basketball Teams Over Chaplains | Faith That Inspires Action says:

    […] Louisville, Wichita State, Maryland, Oklahoma, Kansas and Virginia are being pressured to provide FFR their financial records. However, the chaplains are not being paid by the universities to do Christian work. (Global Dispatch) […]

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