As reported by The Christian Post, the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation, a non-profit that specifically advocates for the interests of atheists, agnostics, and “non-theists,” has a problem with Hugh Freeze, the head football coach at the University of Mississippi.
It seems they don’t like all that tweeting about God he’s been doing.
More specifically, the group objects to Freeze’s tweets promoting Christianity, messages he sends out through his personal Twitter account.
Now, given that he is using his personal Twitter account to send the messages, there should be no problem, right?
Not according to Sam Grover, attorney for the FFRF. It is Grover’s position that because Freeze explicitly uses his personal Twitter account to conduct official business on behalf of the Rebel’s football program, and the University of Mississippi is a public institution, that Freeze’s Christianity-oriented tweets violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution.
Grover has fired off a letter to Mississippi chancellor Jeffrey Vitter asking that he take steps to prevent Freeze and any other members of the coaching staff from using their social media outlets to promote Christianity.
Just this past Sunday, Freeze sent out a message over his Twitter account that invited people to come worship with him at an Oxford, Mississippi church:
“Hope you have the chance to worship today with others. Looking for a place near Oxford?Join us @PinelakeOXF 9:15 or 11:00.”
On Saturday, Freeze took the opportunity to retweet a message sent out by one of his assistant coaches, Maurice Harris, that read, “Perfect people are not real, and real people are not perfect,” and that further cited 1 John 1:8 and Romans 3:21 as the Scriptural bases for the sentiment.
A law firm in Texas, the First Liberty Institute, seems to be taking up Freeze’s cause (whether they are doing so formally is not known, presently). First Liberty senior counsel Jeremy Dys issued the following statement to The Christian Post:
“Football coaches do not lose their First Amendment rights simply because they work for a public university. The First Amendment protects the right of Americans like Coach Freeze to engage in religious expression on their personal Twitter accounts. And our universities ought be places where tolerance, inclusivity, and diversity are promoted. The FFRF has resorted to intolerant bullying in an attempt to silence and censor Coach Freeze. At First Liberty Institute, we defend religious freedom for all Americans.”
The university has yet to issue any official response to the FFRF letter.
By Robert G. Yetman, Jr. Editor At Large