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Football Players Intercept Atheists Bluff

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By Tony Perkins

Arkansas State University football players practice regularly in Centennial Bank Stadium — but it’s the practice of their faith that has had atheists so upset. The football players had placed crosses on their helmets to memorialize a player and manager who died earlier this year. The anti-Christian group that calls itself the Freedom From Religion Foundation began harassing the University with complaints. The University quickly caved and told the players to remove the cross and replace it with what amounts to a meaningless plus sign (+).

Our friends at the Liberty Institute then intervened and advised the University that the atheists’ complaints were without a shred of legal basis. In fact, the University’s censorship order violated the students’ constitutional rights of free speech. “It is just shocking that anyone could do such a thing,” Kelly Shackelford told me yesterday on Washington Watch radio.

Yesterday, the University finally backed down in a letter saying, “It is the university’s position that any player who wishes to voluntarily place an NCAA-compliant sticker on their helmet to memorialize individuals will be able to do so.” What amazes me is that these officials are so ready to cave the moment one of these bullying letters come across their desk — even though the law is completely on the side of free speech and the free exercise of religion.

The reality is that of the last twelve times the Freedom From Religion Foundation has issued legal threats, the group has not followed through on legal action a single time. Their bluffing strategy can only succeed as long as we fail to expose the ways in which they prey on the ignorance of these officials. That’s why we are so honored to stand with the Liberty Institute in defending these precious liberties that serve as the foundation for all of our freedoms.

Tony Perkins is president of the Washington, D.C.-based Family Research Council. He is a former member of the Louisiana legislature where he served for eight years, and he is recognized as a legislative pioneer for authoring measures like the nation’s first Covenant Marriage law.

(Via FRC’s Washington Update. Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.)

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