WESTMORELAND, Tenn. – A principal at a Sumner County middle school reported four football coaches to the Sumner County Board of Education for bowing their heads during a post-game prayer.
After a recent game at Westmoreland Middle School, players initiated and led a prayer, while the team's coaches stood nearby, took off their hats and bowed their heads.
Their action was then reported to school board officials who called the coaches in for a meeting and reminded them of new policies prohibiting school employees from participating in a religious activity.
Nashville's News 2 was unable to get an on-camera response from school board officials but spokesman Jeremy Johnson said the new policy is a response to federal law prohibiting government employees from participating in religious activities such as a prayer.
Public school teachers, coaches and employees are considered to be government officials.
Pastor Leroy Crouch of Jubilee Worship Center in Westmoreland told News 2 that the community supports the coaches.
“Overall this is a Christian community. What's the difference in those places that say 'let's have a moment of silence' and people bow their heads,” he said.
Johnson said the coaches were not reprimanded or written up for the incident, but reminded that they may oversee the players, but can not give the impression that they are participating in the prayer.
The Sumner County Board of Education is the subject of a lawsuit by the ACLU for similar incidents involving teachers in several elementary schools.