Auburn coaches, including Hugh Freeze, under fire for baptizing hundreds of students at 'Unite Auburn' event – WVTM13 Birmingham

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An atheist group is calling out several coaches at Auburn University for their participation in a university-sponsored religious event.
On Thursday, the Freedom From Religion Foundation issued what they refer to as a warning to Auburn head football coach Hugh Freeze, as well as head baseball coach Butch Thompson and head basketball coach Bruce Pearl, for their involvement in the “Unite Auburn” event.
The event, in which more than 100 people were baptized, was organized by Tonya Prewett and her husband Chad Prewett, Auburn’s assistant men’s basketball coach. According to FFRF, they violated the U.S. Constitution.
“Auburn University is a public university, not a religious one. It is inappropriate and unconstitutional for university employees to use their university position to organize, promote or participate in a religious worship event,” said FFRF staff attorney Chris Line. “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 foundation claims that impressionable students may be coerced into participating in such events out of fear of losing playing time or scholarships.
FFRF has insisted that the school take immediate action to rectify the situation, including the reeducation of the coaching staff on their “constitutional duties” as well as the firing of certain staff members.
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“The abuse of power displayed by these coaches shows that Auburn hasn’t changed one bit since we published our 2015 report,” said FFRF co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor. “As coaches, their responsibility lies in guidance on the field, not guiding these students to pews. They should start by firing the team chaplains, whose very presence signals that Auburn University has an inappropriate relationship with Christian evangelists.”
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey posted in support of Auburn Friday morning, writing “As governor, I can assure you Alabama will never be intimidated by out-of-state interest groups dedicated to destroying our nation’s religious heritage.”
FFRF responded directly to Gov. Ivey’s statement, clarifying that the group “did not say that college officials should be required ‘to entirely remove faith from their lives’ — only that they must not promote faith in their official capacities.”
Auburn released the following statement to WVTM 13:
“The university received a letter from the Freedom from Religion Foundation and is evaluating it. We have no further comment at this time.”
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