Other voices | Football, religion and Dabo Swinney
05/03/2014 12:00 AM
05/01/2014 6:04 PM
The following editorial appeared April 25 in the Florence Morning News:
Not to get too territorial, but when a person or group from a far-flung land comes down from his or her perch and casts aspersions on our home turf, we generally shrug it off.
Such is the case with Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation levying several charges against Clemson football coach Dabo Swinney. The group's claims are based on public records detailing Bible Days, FCA breakfasts and other religious-inspired activities that FFRF officials say is unconstitutional.
Swinney has never shied away from his Bible-thumping ways. He proudly wears it on his tiger-striped sleeves. Most of his recruits, if they aren't Christians themselves, know what type of environment they are about to enter.
None of Clemson's current or past players has come forward with stories of discrimination or grievances based on their or the coach's religious beliefs.
That would be an issue. Short of that, though, we see no reason why Swinney should be disciplined for simply being overzealous.
Swinney seems to be singled out here, because Clemson certainly is not the only school to have a highly devout Christian as its head coach. Even the ones who aren't as brazen about their faith probably put some religious stamps on their respective programs. Many teams across the nation have team chaplains and player-organized FCA meetings.
Of course, when it comes to religion and state-supported education, there are many gray lines. There are plenty of black and white ones, too.
As the highest-paid employee at one of the state's two flagship public schools, Swinney needs to know what those lines are, and he needs to respect them. He is in a position of leadership at a public school, and that leadership must be handled responsibly and ethically.
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