ALEXANDRIA, Ala. (Christian Examiner) -- Early last week, Anniston, Ala., high school football coach Eddie Bullock was lauded as an inspiration by Sports Columnist Joe Medley in The Anniston Star. Soon after his column published, however, Medley's praise resulted in an unfavorable situation for school officials.
The piece depicted Bullock as a positive influence on the school's athletes, praising the coach for his personal character, challenging discipline, and encouraging nature. It even highlighted a "bitterly disappointing loss" which Bullock managed to turn positive by noting the team's "game-by-game improvement."
Then the columnist printed an account of Bullock asking for a volunteer to lead a group prayer.
"Bullock told his team to rise up and put a hand on a teammate. He asked for a prayer leader, and a player nicknamed "Pee Wee" stepped up. After "Pee Wee's" prayer, a room full of young men said the Lord's Prayer," Medley wrote.
"The Bulldogs sure can nail the Lord's Prayer," he continued. "The voices delivered the words with a cadence that would have made the marching band proud."
The elaborate depiction of that post-game prayer turned Medley's praise-filled feature into grounds for a potential lawsuit.
By week's end, the atheist group, Freedom From Religion Foundation, a small anti-Christian group in Wisconsin, sent a letter, dated Oct. 31, to Anniston City Schools superintendent Darren Douthitt. The correspondence referenced the news report, and called Bullock's actions a "serious constitutional violation."
"While students may wish to engage in prayer on their own, school staff, including coaches, cannot organize, lead, encourage, or participate in such religious activities," the letter stated.
The letter claimed a Supreme Court precedence in backing its request that the school take action.
The Blaze reported on Nov. 4 that Douthitt had "no plans" regarding a response to the letter.