A Georgia high school has found itself in the crosshairs of the ongoing debate and culture war over prayer in schools after a pastor providing a fiery prayer in the locker room before a football game was posted across social media.
As reported by Georgia TEGNA CBS affiliate WMAZ, Pastor Russell Davis provided an excitable Christian prayer in the locker room before Dawson County entered the field for its victory against West Hall. Davis’ message was a passionate exhortation to play with the passion of one of Christ’s disciplines, was (obviously) overtly Christian, and lasted nearly four minutes.
Video of the pregame session was posted on Facebook, which drew the attention and consternation of the Freedom From Religion Foundation. After a formal complaint was filed, Dawson County officials committed to ensuring that future pregame messages were agnostic.
As reported by the Gainesville (Ga.) Times, to that end, Russell Davis is still part of the program, but is no longer listed as the team’s football character coach. Instead, he is now simply a “volunteer.”
According to the Times, the team continued to pray before it’s most recent game against Lumpkin County, but did so as a team alone without leadership from any coaches.
“Reviewing the information provided and conversations with appropriate school officials, the district is committed to following the parameters set forth in the First Amendment, and the court decisions interpreting the First Amendment, relating to both the establishment of religion and student’s rights to exercise their freedom of religion,” Dawson County Superintendent Damon Gibbs said in an email to the Times. “We believe that our coaches have an understanding of those guidelines and will abide by them.”