A Georgia high school football coach, Coach Isaac Ferrell, who faced backlash over inviting a local pastor to share the Gospel with players resulting in several conversions, has been terminated.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), an atheist group, lodged a complaint, claiming the coach abused his authority and pressured students into religious activities.
“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,” FFRF Staff Attorney Chris Line wrote in a letter to Tattnall County School District Superintendent Kristen Waters.
“Football players shouldn’t be forced to get baptized to play football,” says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “Student athletes will feel coerced to oblige with their coach’s wishes.”
The school district, under investigation for the baptisms, asserted the coach’s firing was unrelated to the incident. The FFRF hailed the decision, stating they were pleased the district sought a new coach respecting constitutional duties.
Parents, like Latifa Johnson, celebrated their children’s independent decisions to embrace Christianity. Johnson expressed pride in her son’s choice and observed the boys’ genuine enthusiasm.
“I was extremely proud of him because he made the decision on his own. I didn’t have to hold his hand, and he did it because he wanted to do it,” Johnson told the television station. “It was so sweet because you see the boys and they looked like they wanted it,” said Johnson, “You know, like everyone looked excited, from the ones I was able to see. So was cheering thank you, God. Yes, yes, yes. I was all for it.”
Coach Ferrell, a respected figure in the community, received support, with many affirming his positive impact on student-athletes.
While the coach has not publicly addressed his dismissal, he continues to share Bible verses and inspirational messages online. The recent message from the Book of James emphasizes endurance through faith testing for spiritual maturity.