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Atheists Clash With Franklin Graham Over Praying Football Coach

REUTERS/Allison Shelley (HAITI - Tags: DISASTER ENVIRONMENT RELIGION) - RTXWDVV

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Joshua Gill Religion Reporter

A national atheist organization made outraged threats over evangelist Franklin Graham’s call for coaches to pray publicly in defiance of the coach Kennedy trial ruling.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) threatened schools with potential lawsuits and criticized Graham in a Tuesday press release in response to his Friday Facebook post calling for public support of coach Joe Kennedy. Graham urged football coaches and fans across the country to stand in solidarity with Kennedy by praying on their respective fields during Sept. 1 football games.

Graham’s call to action came in the wake of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals’ recent ruling that struck down Kennedy’s appeal for his right to pray alone silently on the field for 15 to 30 seconds after high school football games.

The FFRF labeled Graham’s call to prayer “uncivil disobedience” and as it encouraged coaches “to break the law and pray with their students.” The statement urged supporters of their organization to attend Sept. 1 football games and report against any school where students “suffer through a coach-led and -encouraged prayer.”

An attorney for the atheist organization, Andrew L. Seidel threatened any school that chose to stand with Graham and Kennedy, saying “the school district would bear the financial burden of a losing lawsuit his call may result in.”

“FFRF will be closely monitoring the situation,” the organization’s statement added.

The atheist organization even went so far as to call into question Graham’s understanding of and commitment to biblical teaching.

“If Graham is such a believer in the bible, he ought to read Matthew 6:5-6, where Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, condemns public prayer as hypocrisy,” said FFRF Co-President Dan Barker.

Franklin Graham is the son of the famous evangelist Billy Graham.

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