- The Washington Times - Friday, December 16, 2016

A middle school football coach in Wakulla County, Florida, has been reprimanded by the school district after he was captured on video taking a knee during a player’s pre-game prayer.

A parent whose son plays on the Wakulla Middle School football team filmed Coach Eddie Metcalf kneeling in the team’s pregame huddle as a player recited the Lord’s Prayer, a local CBS News affiliate reported.

The Freedom from Religion Foundation said it was “unconstitutional” for Mr. Metcalf to participate in the prayer at all. The Wakulla County School superintendent agreed that Mr. Metcalf violated school policy and said the coach would be disciplined if it happened again.

In a “Letter of Professional Guidance,” Superintendent Robert Pearce cited the district’s personnel handbook, which states, “kneeling with students in prayer or joining hands with students in a prayer circle” are examples of “unlawful participation,” CBS reported.

“The coach may not participate in the prayer,” Mr. Pearce said. “He may not kneel with the players. He may not put his hands on a player during a prayer.”

“What we want our coaches to do and what most people have survived with in regards to meeting the letter of the law — is to have separation from the players — two to three steps,” he added. “You are allowed to have reverent respect for their prayer.”

A group of parents angry about the district’s handling of the situation addressed the Wakulla School Board Monday night, CBS reported.

Jeremy Smith, a longtime friend of Mr. Metcalf, said the coach was simply respecting the prayer, not actively participating.

“It’s infuriating,” Mr. Smith told Fox News. “Eddie was not preaching or teaching or proselytizing or evangelizing. He was reverently nodding his head.”

“This coach has poured his life into this town,” he said. “When you hear about men among men — he is that kind of man.”

Mr. Smith said he and other members of the community are organizing a group to defend the coach and send a message to the school district, Fox News reported.

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