Wherever new Colorado head football coach Deion Sanders goes, controversy seems to follow. This time, the battle is being waged due to Sanders expressing his love for God and his unwillingness to quit giving credit to his Creator.
When Sanders was coaching at Jackson State, an HBCU in Jackson, Mississippi, he was often heard referencing his Christian faith as he talked to players before, during, or after games. From the track record of recruiting that Sanders showed in his time at Jackson, it became clear that players had no issue with this, as top recruits flooded into the school in ways never before seen in HBCU football.
Now in Colorado, Sanders’ faith has rubbed some the wrong way, but none more than the Freedom from Religion Foundation, which believes that the now public employee should not be able to express his beliefs in the ways he has in the past. A letter released by the organization reads, in part:
“Multiple concerned Colorado residents have reached out to FFRF to report that CU’s new football coach Deion Sanders has been infusing his program with Christianity and engaging in religious exercises with players and staff members. It is our understanding that on December 20, 2022, a staff member led other staff members in a Christian prayer to start an official meeting. More egregiously, on January 16, 2023, Coach Sanders directed a staff member to lead players and coaches in Christian prayer before a team meeting.”
The school brought this issue to sanders, according to Fox News, who wrote the following:
The school would respond to the letter the next week, saying Sanders was “very receptive to this training and came away from it with a better understanding of the University of Colorado’s policies and the requirements of the Establishment Clause,” according to the Deseret News. The school said if a player had a problem with prayers in the future, it would direct them to the Office of Institutional Equity and Compliance.
Last month, however, a group named First Liberty Institute came to the aid of Sanders. Fox News shared a portion of a letter written by First Liberty Institute, which said:
“We write to correct the Freedom from Religion Foundation’s (FFRF’s) misstatements regarding the requirements imposed by the First Amendment on public school employees’ religious expression. The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that public school employees may engage in religious expression and exercise; therefore, public universities like CU may not target Coach Sanders (or other members of the football staff) for exercising constitutional rights on campus.”
For his part, Sanders’ track record is one of a man who will not back down from the University officials who demanded he stops openly discussing faith with his players. Sanders firmly believes that God and religion are at the center of everything he has in his life, and he has never been afraid to say that out loud. At one point, he said this, crediting God with all that he has:
“I can’t walk on my own and people have to help me get in and out of everything, and I say, ‘Lord, I thank you.’ You say, ‘Prime, how can you say Lord I thank you and it’s hard for you to help yourself?’ Because I’m alive.”
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