Deion Sanders who is best known as an NFL Hall of Fame cornerback has recently found success as a coach. But it is what he is doing outside the lines that has caught the attention of some.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) has called for Deion Sanders to stop “infusing” Christianity into the Colorado football program. The organization, which advocates for separation of church and state, has taken issue with team and staff prayers that they claim were either led or directed by Sanders.
“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” said Christopher Line, the staff attorney for FFRF in a letter to the university chancellor. “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.”
A representative for the University of Colorado responded to the letter from FFRF highlighting their commitment to both the first amendment and the freedom of individuals:
“As a public institution, University of Colorado recognizes its obligations under the First Amendment to avoid state-sponsored endorsement of religion under the Establishment Clause, while at the same time recognizing that members of our community who hold religious beliefs are free to express them within the boundaries that the United States Supreme Court recently clarified in Kennedy v. Bremerton Sch. Dist., 142 S. Ct. 2407 (2022).”
The letter did add that Coach Sanders was “receptive” to guidance and training around the subject.
The most recent relevant Supreme Court ruling on the subject of prayer in an athletic program comes from Kennedy v. Bremerton Sch. Dist where the justices ruled in favor of a high school football coach who was fired for allegedly leading his team in prayer at mid-field after games.