KEYSER, W.Va. – Delegate Gary Howell, R-Mineral, criticized a complaint Friday filed by the radical activist Freedom From Religion Foundation organization against Mineral County Schools, which seeks to block student athletes and coaches from praying at football games.

KEYSER, W.Va. – Delegate Gary Howell, R-Mineral,  criticized a complaint Friday filed by the radical activist Freedom From Religion Foundation organization against Mineral County Schools, which seeks to block student athletes and coaches from praying at football games.
“This is snowflake political correctness run amok,” Del. Howell said. “Every American has a sacred fundamental right to freely express and practice their religious beliefs, and if the sight of a person praying in public is offensive to someone, that’s their problem and they’re the ones who need to learn to deal with it.”
The Mineral Daily News-Tribune reported Thursday that a “concerned parent” had contacted the Madison, Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation – which promotes and defends atheist, agnostic and nontheist beliefs – after seeing a Twitter post that showed Frankfurt High School football coaches praying at mid-field with their players following the Oct. 25 football game against the Hampshire Senior High Trojans.
According to the paper, the organization’s letter said, in part: “Frankfort High School coaches and staff participating in prayer with their players is a clear endorsement of religion by public school employments…When a public school employee acting in an official capacity participates in team prayer, he effectively endorses religion on the district’s behalf.
“We ask that the Mineral County Schools take immediate action to stop any and all school-sponsored prayers occurring at any district athletic programs,” the letter said.
Delegate Howell said the organization was wrong in its interpretation of the event and the U.S. Constitution, and maintained that student athletes and coaches have a right to voluntarily express their religious beliefs and pray before, during or after games.
“The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution clearly states, ‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ and the Freedom From Religion folks here are specifically asking the local school board to prohibit students’ free exercise of their religious beliefs,” Del. Howell said.
“Just because this organization believes that the separation of church and state – words that are not in the Constitution, by the way – means that we must exclude all public displays of religious expression, that does not mean others must abide by their beliefs,” Del. Howell said.
“Denying people the right to express or practice their religious beliefs just because someone might be offended by them is not what our Founding Fathers had in mind.”
Delegate Howell encouraged the Mineral County school board to stand up against the organization and protect the rights of student athletes and coaches to pray before or after their sporting events.
“In this day and age, when the moral fabric of our culture is being eroded by godless Hollywood elites, I am glad that our children have role models like these coaches who are willing to get down on one knee and join with them to humbly pray to their God above,” Del. Howell said.
“If anything, we need more people joining hand-in-hand in prayer these days than less of it.”