What is FFRF's complaint against Clemson?


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Former Clemson star running back C.J. Spiller prays after a touchdown.
Former Clemson star running back C.J. Spiller prays after a touchdown.

This article does not reflect the opinions of TigerNet. This article is simply to provide context for the FFRF complaint.

"Play not pray."

Those are the exact words the Freedom From Religion Foundation and its co-founder are sending to Clemson University and its football program.

The FFRF formally lodged a complaint with Clemson University earlier this week stating that they have “constitutional concerns about how the public university’s football program is entangled with religion.”

Fox Carolina’s Aaron Cheslock spoke with Annie Laurie Gaylor – FFRF’s co-founder and co-president – on Thursday about her foundation’s intentions and how they would proceed should Clemson choose not to comply with their demands. Cheslock provided TigerNet with an unedited copy of the audio.

TigerNet has written this article in an effort to provide Clemson fans with an insight into the organization’s concerns and to provide both sides of the argument.

Gaylor said that Clemson head coach Dabo SwinneyDabo Swinney
Head Coach
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and his coaching staff are guilty of coercing its football players into participating in religious activities – something she called unacceptable.

“What we are expecting to accomplish is to stop the proselytizing and the religious devotion that seems to be interwoven into Clemson’s football program,” Gaylor said earlier Thursday. “This is a public university, so it shouldn’t be entangling religion and government and coercing players to pray, go to Bible study, go to church and making it seem as though they are a Baptist university instead of a public university.”

Despite former players saying that participation in such activities is strictly voluntary, Gaylor said the only thing that matters is that the football program is providing a channel for players and coaches to participate in Christian activities.

“It doesn’t matter if they are mandatory,” Gaylor said. “They should not be conducted at all at a secular university and a secular football program. It isn’t coercion that we are claiming and coercion is not a test that we have to meet to show that the Constitution is being violated. Every court that you go to will agree with us. They are establishing religion. There is a climate of Christianity and piety as if to be a player you have to go to church, you have to pray, you have to go to Bible study, and you have to meet with a chaplain and on and on and on.

“This is not appropriate at a public university and it has to stop. These players can become part of prayer clubs and student clubs and go to church and go to spiritual advisors, but it shouldn’t be a football coach or other paid or designate officials of Clemson University. There is full freedom of religion. This is not student speech. This is proselytizing by the football department. It’s utterly inappropriate.”

The University responded to the FFRF with an official statement Thursday saying, “We believe the practices of the football staff regarding religion are compliant with the Constitution and appropriately accommodate differing religious views.”

However, Gaylor said the response is not sufficient, citing the mountains of evidence that the FFRF has in its possession.

“The response today is not satisfactory,” Gaylor said. “We are not guessing about the practices. We conducted an open record requests and we’ve got pages and pages of documents that show inappropriate entanglement of religion and the football team, including a paid chaplain and including – it looks like most or all of the coaches involved leading prayer and baptism in the athletic building, requesting full attendance at prayer breakfasts, taking them to church and on and on. In fact, Bible study in between drills. It is almost hard to believe.”

Gaylor went on to say that Clemson University should thank her foundation for pointing out its improprieties and unconstitutional behaviors.

“They [Clemson] say in the third paragraph [of the official statement] that we will evaluate the complaints raised in the letter and we will respond,” she said. “They haven’t had time to properly investigate the whole thing, but we have. We have open records. We have all of the evidence we will need. We have smoking guns galore that there is an unconstitutional and inappropriate entanglement of religion between the football department and Christianity and it has to stop. We expect leadership from the regents or chancellor or the administration of Clemson University. They should be stopping this. They should be thanking us for calling this to their attention. They need to take action.”

Gaylor said that she expects Clemson University to comply with the demands of the FFRF, but that they have yet to speak to a current or former player that is taking exception to the practices of the football program. However, should Clemson decide to continue business as usual, Gaylor said that her foundation is not above suing the university, but the FFRF needs a “victim” – or a plaintiff – to take the case to court.

Clemson said in statements that it believes the FFRF is mistaken in its assessment and continues to supports Swinney. The University also said the Supreme Court has expressly upheld the right of public bodies to employ chaplains and has noted that the use of prayer is not in conflict with the principles of disestablishment and religious freedom.


Faith and Football: Former Players Speak Out

Clemson's official statement on FFRF complaint


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Subject (Replies: 111) Author
spacer New Story: What is FFRF's complaint against Clemson?
TigerNet News
spacer Well, here's a major contradiction in the same paragraph...
joeyb®
spacer So starved for attention, they didn't even know what...
tigerking79
spacer I thought that was odd as well
IPTAY FAMILY
spacer This is the reason I should have read through the thread
vlastimil_hort
spacer It says Clemson is "coercing players to pray....."
GunTotnTigr
spacer Unless a player complains
tigerag79
spacer Re: New Story: What is FFRF's complaint against Clemson?
CUAtTheFinishLine®
spacer Re: New Story: What is FFRF's complaint against Clemson?
CUTiger1989®
spacer I can guarantee you that whenever Gaylord
Baltimore Tiger®
spacer Carl Sagan didn't.***
CUTiger1989®
spacer Re: Carl Sagan didn't.***
levester®
spacer Guilty!
Jamey
spacer Boy, Wisconsin must be a wonderful place to exist
scooter
spacer A major gripe I have about the state of our culture is that
PGTiger
spacer "Integrity is the ability to stand by an idea"
Classof09
spacer Case in point.
PGTiger
spacer Re: "Integrity is the ability to stand by an idea"
1988NC
spacer Re: A major gripe I have about the state of our culture is that
Reaver88
spacer Re: A major gripe I have about the state of our culture is that
TigerOf2007
spacer Re: A major gripe I have about the state of our culture is that
bobcobb22
spacer But there is only 1 assigned to each unit
TX Tiger®
spacer SC taxpayers have NOTHING to do with the team chaplain
ChapinTiger1
spacer Re: A major gripe I have about the state of our culture is that
levester®
spacer Re: A major gripe I have about the state of our culture is that
tigerlaw56
spacer This is kind of the beginning of the end
Classof09
spacer Dear past/current members of the Clemson family...
thompson_creek_tiger®
spacer Re: Dear past/current members of the Clemson family...
Tigerluvr
spacer Re: New Story: What is FFRF's complaint against Clemson?
sctiger78
spacer Who in the world is FFRF?!!!! Better question... who cares?
buie32
spacer FFRF
CUsouix®
spacer Psalms 14:1
wildtiger94®
spacer 1 Corinthians 1:18
solafide_tiger®
spacer Re: 1 Corinthians 1:18
TigerOf2007
spacer Matthew 10:32/33
TigerChE85
spacer Show me where it says "freedom FROM religion" in the
AllTimeClemson
spacer Cause the muslims would cut their throats. Literally.***
Spud
spacer How many muslim coaches do we have that lead
Neal in NC®
spacer I dont know, but I was speaking generally about the FFRF
AllTimeClemson
spacer Re: Show me where it says "freedom FROM religion" in the
levester®
spacer All the open records do is prove them wrong on the...
tigerking79
spacer Mountains of evidence that Clemson has a climate of
tigerfan28173
spacer Re: Mountains of evidence that Clemson has a climate of
44Gamecock
spacer Tell 'em coot
clemson80tiger
spacer Re: Mountains of evidence that Clemson has a climate of
500taylor®
spacer stupid is as stupid does
ChapinTiger1
spacer First I've heard that USC wants back into
SouthernSun96
spacer Where was this group when Tommy Bowden was coach?...
tigerking79
spacer Re: Where was this group when Tommy Bowden was coach?...
deroberts
spacer Re: Where was this group when Tommy Bowden was coach?...
DRHENEY
spacer Who wants to bet that she wears a tinfoil hat?
homeslice1479®
spacer Apparently to her somebody being a Christian and sharing....
tigerking79
spacer Re: Apparently to her somebody being a Christian and sharing....
cbury
spacer Re: Who wants to bet that she wears a tinfoil hat?
cbury
spacer Re: Who wants to bet that she wears a tinfoil hat?
idraterbfishin®
spacer I feel sorry for Ms. Gaylor, as she will only realize the
CootTamer
spacer Re: I feel sorry for Ms. Gaylor, as she will only realize the
bobcobb22
spacer She's mad she isn't a man.
74paws
spacer You know, I mostly can't stand the false sanctimoniousness
vlastimil_hort
spacer Clemson football is a religion
IPTAY FAMILY
spacer Re: New Story: What is FFRF's complaint against Clemson?
elpayne71
spacer Pretty eaay for this women to talk out of both sides of her mouth
Dr. Nikola Tesla
spacer Re: New Story: What is FFRF's complaint against Clemson?
TigerOf2007
spacer Thanks for your insight sugar. Now move along.***
ShawnC
spacer Re: New Story: What is FFRF's complaint against Clemson?
maxcat®
spacer All that comes to mind is.....,
cume96
spacer Re: New Story: What is FFRF's complaint against Clemson?
myplasticsurgeon
spacer Re: New Story: What is FFRF's complaint against Clemson?
GvlTgr
spacer Re: New Story: What is FFRF's complaint against Clemson?
tigersam59®
spacer Re: New Story: What is FFRF's complaint against Clemson?
anewell71
spacer Re: New Story: What is FFRF's complaint against Clemson?
GvlTgr
spacer They are fishing for 1 person from the team to complain.
Noodle
spacer Yep, while getting free publicity for future cases elsewhere
CUAllTheWay®
spacer Re: New Story: What is FFRF's complaint against Clemson?
AlaskanTiger
spacer This org is very deliberate in their efforts. Clemson was
NortherTiger
spacer Dear ffrf
mojar
spacer I'm atheist, but this lawyer garbage is what offends me
Battery505®
spacer I bet they approach Chad Kelly to be a witness******
rudetiger
spacer I'll bet she makes terrible sammichs***
tkd2000®
spacer Go to He!! ... oh wait.
OldTiger05
spacer Re: New Story: What is FFRF's complaint against Clemson?
tigerjft
spacer Re: New Story: What is FFRF's complaint against Clemson?
jarnemann
spacer Of course this complaint is completely one-sided
cumathgrad
spacer Just got off the phone with the FFRF
Lance Uppercut
spacer Re: Just got off the phone with the FFRF
TigerOf2007
spacer Re: New Story: What is FFRF's complaint against Clemson?
2StripeTiger®
spacer Re: New Story: What is FFRF's complaint against Clemson?
Giraffeboy100
spacer Freedom from religion
TigerChE85
spacer Re: New Story: What is FFRF's complaint against Clemson?
Catsueme
spacer Re: New Story: What is FFRF's complaint against Clemson?
DRHENEY
spacer There's just no reason to mix coaching with proselytizing.
ThomJ2
spacer In other words, he needs to renounce his faith.
Orange and Purple
spacer Re: There's just no reason to mix coaching with proselytizing.
ebjbtigerfan
spacer Re: There's just no reason to mix coaching with proselytizing.
DRHENEY
spacer Would you feel the same if Dabo read from the Quran?
PolkHighBundy
spacer Re: There's just no reason to mix coaching with proselytizing.
Tim317
spacer I for one agree with her.
ClemsonTiger1988®
spacer Re: I for one agree with her.
hoosicktiger®
spacer Translation: We just hate Dabo because he is a Christian. We want only atheists at Clemson.***
Orange and Purple
spacer Re: New Story: What is FFRF's complaint against Clemson?
tabbyplague®
spacer Re: New Story: What is FFRF's complaint against Clemson?
Gibbs411
spacer Re: New Story: What is FFRF's complaint against Clemson?
BKendall36®
spacer Good luck finding someone to turn on Clemson and sue***
BentZero
spacer Re: Good luck finding someone to turn on Clemson and sue***
DRHENEY
spacer Re: Good luck finding someone to turn on Clemson and sue***
ctigerfan®
spacer Re: New Story: What is FFRF's complaint against Clemson?
CidTiger
spacer Re: New Story: What is FFRF's complaint against Clemson?
JayDyches
spacer Freedom FROM religion should not be confused with...
1983Grad®
spacer after this week i think we got dat***
henry®
spacer While I think the FFRF is crazy, there is a line
milkingoatswithjehnir
spacer Re: While I think the FFRF is crazy, there is a line
71PR
spacer Re: New Story: What is FFRF's complaint against Clemson?
atkjoh
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