A prominent atheist organization is calling for an investigation over reports that a high school football coach in Georgia had several local churches provide pre-game meals for the football team.
The Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation, which aims to "protect the constitutional principle of separation between state and church," recently sent a letter to the superintendent of Walker County Schools requesting that the school board look into the activities of the Ridgeland High School football coach Mark Mariakis.
"Taking public school football teams to church, even for a meal, is unconstitutional," wrote FFRF attorney Andrew Seidel in the letter. "This program is an egregious violation of the Establishment Clause and must cease immediately."
Seidel stated that having school children visit churches and having preachers "present the Gospel of Jesus Christ" is in direct conflict with the protections granted in the First Amendment.
The FFRF explained that the matter was first brought to their attention after a local individual complained about local churches providing meals to the football team before games.
The Walker County School system released a statement acknowledging they have received the letter and are reviewing the claims put forth.
Richie White said he was flabbergasted when he found out that an organization had a problem with providing food to kids.
"It would be interesting to see what part of the Constitution we violated by simply offering a meal to fellow Americans," White told Fox News, adding that "these are kids from our area that we do love and we do care about."
White is the youth director for Chattanooga Valley Baptist Church, which is slated to prepare the pre-game meal for the football team in October.
White said several members of the church youth group are on the football team and the pre-game meals have been a longstanding tradition.
"We as Christians don't force our religion on anyone … we're being persecuted because we believe there is a God who created us," White said.
"I don't think there's an equal playing field because we base our lives and our views on the Scripture," he added.