The Freedom From Religion Foundation recently sent a complaint letter to Clemson University about religious practices going on with the football team. The education non-profit said the university administration needs to step in and tell the coaching staff “hands off the consciences of these kids.”
Swinney has offered Bible studies for players and taken players and staff to church services in a bus. There has been some debate over who paid for the use of the bus. Some reports have said Swinney and some of the other coaches pay for the bus while the complaint says this is paid for by the university.
The letter of complaint from the Freedom From Religion Foundation states, “Christian worship seems interwoven into Clemson’s football program. We are concerned that this commingling of religion and athletics results, not from student initiative, but rather from the attitudes and unconstitutional behaviors of the coaching staff.”
The Clemson coaching staff said they were advised not to speak on the matter.
Swinney is a devoted Christian, and has made it very clear he relies on a strong faith in God in his personal and professional life. The foundation said that is fine, but he must not bring his faith to the student athletes.
Clemson University released a statement saying, “We believe the practices of the football staff regarding religion are compliant with the Constitution and appropriately accommodate differing religious views. Participation in religious activities is purely voluntary, and there are no repercussions for students who decline to do so. We are not aware of any complaints from current or former student-athletes about feeling pressured or forced to participate in religious activities.”
Buffalo Bills running back and former Clemson All-American said, “I attended many of the prayer services because that is what I wanted to do. I had several friends who did not choose to go, but that was their decision. It was not mandatory you attend the services.”
No current or former players have complained about the religious practices on the football team.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation is based in Madison, Wisconsin and represent atheists and agnostics around the country. The group has 20,000 members across the country. They report having 155 members living in the state of South Carolina.