Hundreds of people gathered in Gainesville, Ga., to defend religious liberty Wednesday after an atheist group demanded a local high school remove religion from its football team.
The American Humanist Association sent a letter to officials at Chestatee High School Tuesday, threatening to sue if the football coaches don’t quit praying with the team, and if all biblical or religious messages are not removed from team documents, Fox News reports.
More than 200 people showed up for a prayer rally on the Chestatee football field Wednesday to protest the letter.
“We have received reports that CHS coaches have joined players in prayer while standing in a circle, hands interlocked,” the letter stated, according to Fox News. The group, writing on behalf of an unidentified resident, also complained about a banner, written by cheerleaders, that reads “Iron Sharpens Iron, Proverbs 21:17,” and that the team workout schedule references a verse in Galatians.
Fox News reports that nobody connected to the football program has a problem with the verses or the prayer.
“I am a mom of two of the football players on the CHS football team and I consider it an honor and a privilege to have my boys on a team that is led by men that believe and trust in God,” one caller told a local radio station, according to Fox News. “I think it’s a shame for one person to try and take that away from them.”
The school superintendent told the station the claims will be taken seriously, but the school will not overreact:
“Unfortunately when school systems get letters like this and people start rattling sabers, usually the first reaction by a lot of school districts is, ‘Oh my goodness, we don’t want to be in the news. We don’t want to be sued, so we better stop doing whatever we are doing. I don’t think that will be the first reaction of the Hall County School Board.”
Congressman Doug Collins, who represents the district, expressed outrage that the group is “trying to bully” a bunch of high school kids. “It’s utterly disgusting that while innocent lives are being lost in Iraq and other places at the hands of radical religious terrorists, a bunch of Washington lawyers are finding the time to pick on kids in Northeast Georgia,” he said in a statement.