Bill aims to protect prayer by Georgia high school coaches


High school coaches would be allowed to participate in student-led prayers before sporting events and talk about religion with students, according to a bill introduced in the Georgia Senate on Monday.

The legislation, Senate Bill 361, comes in response to a complaint by an atheist group against East Coweta High School head coach John Small, who prayed with his players after a football game last fall. 

“Religious liberty is the bedrock of our nation,” said state Sen. Michael Williams, R-Cumming, the bill’s sponsor. “This is a much needed protection for Georgia faculty members and students who incorporate their religious beliefs into their daily lives.”

Williams’ proposal also protects students from discrimination for expressing religious viewpoints in homework, artwork and religious clubs. 

In addition, the legislation sets aside a time for student speakers to talk about their religion or other topics before football games, designated athletic events, opening announcements for the school day and school assemblies.

The bill faces a difficult path forward. Williams is a Republican candidate for governor against Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, the Republican president of the Senate who can influence what legislation advances.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Georgia Legislature

Early voting ends Friday, Nov. 2 for the General Election
Early voting ends Friday, Nov. 2 for the General Election

If you prefer to vote early for the Nov. 6 General Election in Georgia, time is running out. The final weekday of early voting is Friday, Nov. 2. After that, your last chance will come Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 6. And remember, you can only vote in the county where you are registered. Final caution: The weekday lines have been long. Some of the ...
Georgia stalls voter registrations, from Jesus to new U.S. citizens
Georgia stalls voter registrations, from Jesus to new U.S. citizens

When a Georgia voter registration form is filled out with the name “Jesus Christ” or “Badeye,” it’s pretty obvious why it wouldn’t be processed. Other registration applications stalled by state election officials might well be legitimate, such as those submitted by new U.S. citizens whose citizenship status...
When is the next Georgia election, and who is on the ballot?
When is the next Georgia election, and who is on the ballot?

Georgia’s next election takes place on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018. The ballot includes candidates for governor and other state offices, the Georgia Legislature, Congress and a list of local offices, mostly on the county level. 2018 is a midterm election year, falling between the 2016 and 2020 election years for president. Georgia’s...
Experience, crime fuel debate in attorney general race
Experience, crime fuel debate in attorney general race

In a statewide race between two unlikely candidates, an issue generally confined to the local level has taken center stage. The Republican incumbent, Attorney General Chris Carr, and his Democrat opponent, Charlie Bailey, a former Fulton prosecutor, agree: Gangs constitute a growing threat to public safety. There’s even a consensus on how best...
Senate weighs tourism industry and local control of school calendars
Senate weighs tourism industry and local control of school calendars

When Steve Gooch was a kid growing up on a poultry farm, he got the whole summer off from school, but over the intervening decades he’s watched the start dates “creep back.” As the majority whip of the state senate, Sen. Gooch, R-Dahlonega, can ask why school starts well before Labor Day. Channeling concerns about vacation planning...
More Stories