High school sports | commentary

Baxter: ‘Religion’ in school crosshairs

February 2, 2014 

IT IS SAID that “in the South, football is religion.”

That may be true in some places, but you had better not entangle the two in front of district board members and superintendents.

Last week, there were two instances where “religion” has been the topic — and target — of public school districts in North Carolina and Texas.

Last week, Mooresville (N.C.) High coach Hal Capps was ordered to stop leading players in prayer. He was also told to stop performing off-campus baptisms after the Wisconsin-based group Freedom from Religion Foundation contacted the school district.

That controversy was sparked after the group saw a photo on Twitter which included an image of Capps at what the group called “a team baptism.” (It was in at an off-campus site and was sponsored by a church that some of the team members belonged to.)

The Freedom from Religion Foundation letter stated that “students have reported that coach Capps frequently prays with football players at team events and encourages them to go to church and to become baptized.”

In Texas, religion was the hot topic when the owner of Little Pencil, LLC filed suit against the Lubbock Independent School District, claiming discrimination against their website, Jesustattoo.org. The school district has prohibited the company from purchasing advertising on its large electric scoreboard. The lawsuit claims that the website is being discriminated against unfairly because of religious affiliation despite the district allowing secular advertising.

The district says that its “establishment clause” prohibits religious advertisements on government property. But the school district has permitted faith-based organizations, including Lubbock Christian University, Sunset Church of Christ Preschool, Bethany Baptist Church, Chick-fil-A, and Full Armor Ministries, a local church, to advertise at district basketball facilities.

Texans might not be as silent on this issue.

Countdown to signing day

Here are some small-school players to watch:

Oceanez Fluitt, WR, C.E. Murray: Breaking on the scene this year as an All-Star, Fluitt committed this week to Newberry, and should excel as a Division II star.

Will Holbrook, LB, South Aiken: Holbrook is a hard-hitting ball hound who finally got exposure with a great week at the North-South game; he committed to Newberry.

Kevin Dickinson, Safety, Summerville: Overshadowed much of his career by USC commitment Darin Smalls, Dickinson is an aggressive defender who is strong against the pass and run. He committed to Charleston Southern.

Aaron Peak, CB, Blythewood: Peak will be a star at James Madison, where he will sign this week.

Lynard Jamison, WR, Blythewood: Jamison is one of the most electrifying offensive skills players in the Midlands. He will excel at the next level and will sign with South Carolina State this week.

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