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An anti-religious group has attempted to stifle Christian baptisms at Auburn University in Alabama after a video went viral last week of the school's head football coach helping with the event.
As a result, the Freedom From Religion Foundation sent a letter to Auburn University President Christopher Roberts, claiming that the head football coach, Hugh Freeze, helping with the baptisms was a violation of the Constitution's Establishment Clause, per Fox News.
"These ongoing and repeated constitutional violations at the University create a coercive environment that excludes those students who don’t subscribe to the Christian views being pushed onto players by their coaches," the statement reads.
However, legal expert Tyson Langhofer, senior counsel and director of the Center for Academic Freedom with Alliance Defending Freedom, suggested that anti-religious group has a "twisted interpretation of the First Amendment."
"Freedom From Religion Foundation’s twisted interpretation of the First Amendment has the potential to crush both students’ and their coaches’ essential right to live out their faith," Langhofer said.
Alliance Defending Freedom is one of the most successful Supreme Court litigation firms, winning many cases that specifically deal with the First Amendment and religious freedoms, per the report.
"Public universities are supposed to be the marketplace of ideas and have an obligation to protect and promote free speech and free exercise of religion," Langhofer added.
The event in question occurred last week, reeling in around 5,000 people, most of whom were students. The gathering took place at Neville Arena on Auburn University's campus.
"Auburn University is a public university, not a religious one," the anti-religious group stated.
"It is inappropriate and unconstitutional for University employees to use their University position to organize, promote, or participate in a religious worship event. Nor can Auburn’s coaches proselytize or participate in religious activities with students or hire a chaplain to do so."
However, Langhofer said that the group's letter itself is "unconstitutional."
"As the Supreme Court recently reaffirmed in the Coach Kennedy case, religious coaches and students have the right to engage in religious activities on campus in their private capacity. FFRF’s desire to silence religious students sends a clear message: ‘You are not welcome here.’ That’s unconstitutional," Langhofer said.
The baptism was reportedly part of the "Unite Auburn" event that featured performances from Christian worship band Passion and included several speakers, such as Jennie Allen, Reverend Jonathan Pokluda, and the lead pastor of Harris Creek Baptist Church in Waco, Texas.
Hundreds baptized after Unite Auburn worship servicewww.youtube.com
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