Mailbag soundoff: Swinney and religion

Religion? Controversial? Now it is your turn to weigh in on the Freedom From Religion Foundation and its complaint against Clemson coach Dabo Swinney.

John Partin in Greenville, S.C., writes: In your article on Dabo Swinney and the FFRF's complaint against Clemson, you mentioned at the end that Swinney should stop offering rides to church and also stop baptisms on campus. I think you are wrong. The motive of the founders and the Constitution in including the separation of church and state clause is to protect the church from government influence, NOT to protect the government from church influence. In fact, if Swinney was reprimanded and told to stop, it would actually violate Swinney's right of freedom of religion. The government would then be doing exactly what it is forbidden to do in the Constitution. A core tenet of the Christian faith is to tell others the good news of Jesus Christ and how he can change their life. If Swinney was told to stop because he gave his players the OPTION to go to church, that is violating the Constitution in two areas: freedom of religion and freedom of speech.

Blue writes: What a waste of typing. Dabo Swinney is welcome to believe whatever nonsense he wishes, but he's a public employee who needs to keep his nonsensical beliefs in his church. You're a writer and you know the definition of the word coercion, and using religious coercion is a disgusting way to get young people, wholly dependent on the good graces of the coaching staff to maintain their position on the team, to get players to conform. "No one has complained." Yeah, I wonder why not, considering the fact that a scholarship is controlled by a (man) who thinks it's just fine to abuse his position to coerce teenagers. Swinney has a church that he can invite those kids desperate enough to want to believe the same nonsense he does to attend, but by abusing the public position of authority he occupies and the public facilities he uses for his job, he not only crosses the line, he becomes abusive. You wouldn't stand for this for one minute from a coach of any other religious belief or nonbelief, but Dabo Swinney is really, really serious about it, so that makes it OK.

JSlane in Prudenville, Mich., writes: I personally believe them, compared to the coach. What current player is going to complain? What other person wants to be called anti-Christian? I don't believe his self-serving statement. All sorts of ways for abuse. You may pass this on to the coach.

Daniel in York, S.C., writes: Getting tired of this FFRF complaint that the media is making a bigger deal than there is out of it. Instead of just writing stuff down you heard or read in the letter from this watchdog group, how about you do some real reporting and actually ask guys not in the program ... who have nothing to gain or lose from speaking out? DeAndre Hopkins is the one who wanted to do his baptism at the practice fields, so that was a player-led activity all the way. If Dabo were to stop that, he would have been a bad guy for not letting a player express his religious beliefs. I tell you, some of you people just make a story when there isn't one. If the players want to go to church, then sometimes there isn't a better way then just getting a bus, and that goes without saying he can't use the university buses. Pretty sure Dabo already knows that just from the fallout between the ACLU and former Clemson head coach Tommy Bowden. Then you say, well what if the player is of a different religion, shouldn't he be able to get a ride to a church of his choosing so he doesn't feel left out? And I say, well, just ask. Don't assume Dabo kicks these kids to the curb. I am sure if a kid said he didn't have a ride to his atheist group, Dabo would do every thing in his power to get the kid there, but no one knows because speculation is good enough journalism for you, so it should be for everyone. ... Y'all don't know if Dabo is organizing bus rides to church, you just speculate. How about ask someone. Quit with all the "well, you can't do this and you can't do that" because trust me, if y'all know you're not supposed to do it, I sure know Dabo knows better. Give the man a little credit here. He's pretty smart. There is a little saying I like that states, "Come correct or don't come at all," which to me means either bring the facts or leave the story in the trash. ... That's all, God bless.

Dan Norman in Seattle writes: Just curious, but I am wondering what your qualifications are for reaching legal conclusions, such as "Had any of these religious activities been mandatory, had any player lost his scholarship because he failed to attend them, then Swinney would be guilty of unconstitutional behavior at a public university", etc. ... You are clearly entitled to your opinion, but based upon what legal background are you deciding what is constitutional pursuant to the First Amendment re: the Clemson coach? (AA note: The First Amendment clearly states there should be no government establishment of religion; therefore mandatory religious activities at a government-funded public university would not be allowed.)