North Carolina prep football coach ordered to stop leading pregame prayers

A North Carolina prep football coach has agreed to stop leading his team in prayer after school officials succumbed to pressure from an organization hell-bent on separating church and state, according to local media reports that rapidly gained national attention.

Following a complaint from a player's parent, the Freedom from Religion Foundation sent a letter to Mooresville (N.C.) Graded School District attorney Kevin Donaldson demanding Mooresville High football coach Hal Capps stop organizing pregame prayer sessions and encouraging his players to be baptized, the Charlotte Observer reported late last week.

"It is a violation of the Constitution for the Mooresville High School football coach to organize, lead, or participate in prayers or other religious proselytizing before, during, or after games and practices," the Wisconsin-based nonprofit's attorney, Patrick Elliott, wrote in the letter to Donaldson this past fall. "It is well settled that public schools, and by extension public school officials, may not advance or promote religion."

Elliott emailed a copy of the letter to the Observer along with a picture from the team's Twitter account that the foundation believed depicted Capps leading a team baptism.

The Freedom from Religion Foundation reportedly sent this photo as evidence of mixing church and state -- Twitter
The Freedom from Religion Foundation reportedly sent this photo as evidence of mixing church and state -- Twitter

In regards to the photo in question, Mooresville superintendent Mark Edwards reportedly claimed several players invited the coach to a baptism organized by their church. Edwards also met with Capps following the football season and ordered him to stop leading students in prayers and baptisms. “He said he understood,” Edwards told the Observer.

Meanwhile, many in the Mooresville community have rallied around the coach using the hashtag #ISupportCapps on social media, including junior wide receiver Dallas Jackson.

Jackson appeared on Monday's edition of Fox and Friends, telling the host that the coach grants players the option of not participating in a pregame ritual that includes the Lord's Prayer and hopes for the players' safety. Nobody sat out the prayer, according to Jackson, who vowed to join teammates in organizing a pregame prayer if their coach cannot.

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Ben Rohrbach

is a contributor for Prep Rally on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow Prep Rally on Twitter!