A high school football coach in Georgia was fired after hosting an outdoor baptism ceremony for 20 players.
Isaac Ferrell, who still teaches in the district, was fired as the head coach from the Tattnall County High School after the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) complained about the Christian ceremony.
A viral video celebrating the Oct. 23 event shows Gary Few, a pastor, baptizing each player and submerging them in a black tub.
Chris Line, an attorney for the Wisconsin-based group, claims Ferrell “abused his power” as a football coach.
“The district must refrain from infusing its football program with religion, and Coach Ferrell cannot be allowed to preach to student-athletes or allow a local pastor to preach to and baptize students,” Line wrote in a letter to the district.
Latifa Johnson, the mother of one of the players baptized last month, said she is “extremely proud” of her son for making the decision.
“It was so sweet because you see the boys and they looked like they wanted it,” Johnson told WSAV News 3. “You know, like everyone looked excited, from the ones I was able to see. So [I] was cheering, ‘Thank you, God.’ Yes, yes, yes. I was all for it.”
While members of The Satanic Temple lambasted the team for the baptisms, the majority of the comments were supportive.
“Now that’s what I am talking about!” one person said. “Congratulations young men! You just made the best decision of your lives! Hallelujah! Glory to God!”
Another, noting Ferrell was fired, added, “We need more coaches like this.”
The FFRF celebrated Ferrell’s firing.
“We are glad they are looking for a new coach who will abide by his constitutional duties,” Line told the local news.
Kristen Waters, the district’s superintendent, however, said the decision to fire Ferrell was not made because of the baptisms.
“Based on the outcome of an investigation into an incident that occurred Friday night, Nov. 3 while traveling after the football game, the district decided that it would seek a head football coach that aligned with the best interests of the students,” Waters said.
The investigation, which began after FFRF’s letter, is still ongoing, according to the district.