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Alabama state champion coach and AD fired for being a member of the wrong church

Cameron Smith
Prep Rally

One of the most successful coaches in the state of Alabama is suddenly out of a job after he was dismissed for what initially seems to be a remarkably trivial reason: He attends the wrong church.

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East Memorial Christian Academy, here playing in blue, is without its coach weeks before kickoff — BeRecruited

East Memorial Christian Academy, here playing in blue, is without its coach weeks before kickoff — BeRecruited

As reported by the Montgomery Advertiser, Prattville (Ala.) East Memorial Christian Academy super coach Scott Phillips, who led the school’s football program to its first state playoff berth in years and coached the boys basketball team to the first state title in any sport, was dismissed because he refused to force his family to attend East Memorial Baptist Church.

While Phillips had never been forced to attend the school’s affiliated church when he was only a coach, that changed when he became the school’s athletic director. As confirmed by the Advertiser, East Memorial Christian Academy’s athletic director was expected to attend the East Memorial Baptist Church, even though there was allegedly not an official clause in the contract requiring such attendance.

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Now former East Memorial Christian Academy coach Scott Phillips — USA Today/Montgomery Advertiser

Now former East Memorial Christian Academy coach Scott Phillips — USA Today/Montgomery Advertiser

Phillips tried to make that work, getting his family to start each Sunday at a 9 a.m. service at East Memorial before attending an 11 a.m. service at his family’s church of choice, Church of the Highlands. Eventually that routine began to make Phillips feel dishonest, leading to a conversation with East Memorial officials where the coach and AD told them he didn’t feel comfortable attending Sunday services at East Memorial Baptist.

That was the last conversation he would have as the school’s AD.

"I was 30 seconds from turning the job down because of the church issue," Phillips told the Advertiser. "They wanted me to transition from the Church of the Highlands to East Memorial. I never really liked that, so I went back in my administrator’s office and told them I was willing to give this a try, but I don’t know how this will work out?

"That was the last thing said."

Phillips insists that he tried to shift his family from Church of the Highlands to Eastern Memorial Baptist, but said he never reached any level of comfort about the decision. Eventually, he had to deal with the situation head-on, hoping that Eastern Memorial officials would be reasonable about his faith.

That was apparently too much to ask.

"In a nutshell, I told them I miss my old church," Phillips recalls. "I went in to share my heart to a pastor. Knowing what might happen, but kind of saying, 'Maybe we can work something out?' I knew that wasn’t going to be the end of it because it was going to be a process. It wasn’t received well."

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