A school district in Georgia is investigating a video of what appears to be a baptism of several people on the football field at Villa Rica High School, which purportedly took place right before football practice, according to a caption posted with the video, WXIA 11 (NBC affiliate) reports.
The Carroll County School System is investigating, having received a letter from the Freedom From Religion Foundation asking school officials to “immediately investigate and take action to ensure there will be no further illegal religious events.”
The video appears to have been posted by the Villa Rica First Baptist Church. During the video, text flashes on the screen, which reads:
Baptism … When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. (Luke 3:21) … A step of obedience … Being set free … An outward symbol of being washed anew.
“I can’t remember another case like this,” the station quoted Annie Laurie Gaylor of the Freedom From Religion Foundation as saying. “It’s really misusing the authority of the coach to promote his personal religious agenda.”
An official statement from the school system said only that the district was looking into the matter to ensure that all state and federal laws are followed, although the videotaped baptisms occurred, allegedly, on August 17. The station noted that the minister of Villa Rica First Baptist Church could not be reached for comment.
“It’s forcing them to undergo a religious ritual to be accepted on a team,” Ms Gaylor continued. “How are they going to cross their coach? They have no choice. It’s proselytizing, it’s coercive, and it’s not legal in our schools.”