Atheist group launches full-court press against basketball chaplains

ADF sends six universities letters explaining truth about First Amendment
Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Attorney sound bites:  Travis Barham  |  David Hacker

LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. – Alliance Defending Freedom sent letters to six public universities after they received complaints from Freedom From Religion Foundation wrongly stating that having basketball team chaplains is unconstitutional.

“Public universities should be commended for making chaplains available to student athletes who want them, especially since hectic team travel schedules often prevent students from participating in weekend worship services,” said ADF Legal Counsel Travis Barham. “These universities should simply ignore the unfounded demands from anti-religious groups, especially since courts have upheld similar chaplain programs in a wide variety of other contexts for decades.”
“[T]he Establishment Clause ‘affirmatively mandates accommodation, not merely tolerance, of all religions, and forbids hostility toward any,’” the ADF letters explain. “[P]ublic universities have great leeway in accommodating the religious needs of their students, and providing chaplains is one time-honored and constitutionally permissible method for doing so.”
“No court has ever said that public universities may not utilize chaplains for their athletic teams,” the letters continue. “In fact, many courts have upheld chaplaincy programs in other similar contexts: the military, prisons, police and fire departments, hospitals, airports, and the legislative branches of government.”
ADF sent the letters to the University of Kansas, the University of Louisville, the University of Maryland, the University of Virginia, the University of Oklahoma, and Wichita State University.
“It’s shameful for groups like Freedom From Religion Foundation to attack chaplains, who provide student athletes who voluntarily choose to speak with them with positive support that builds character,” added ADF Senior Legal Counsel David Hacker. “We hope these universities will disregard the illegitimate demands of secularist groups who distort the meaning of the First Amendment.”
  • Pronunciation guide: Barham (BEHR'-um)

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.

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