The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), an anti-religious organization, sent a “warning” letter to Auburn University President Christopher Roberts, saying the institution violated the Constitution after a member of its staff helped baptize more than 200 students.
“Auburn University is a public university, not a religious one,. It is inappropriate and unconstitutional for University employees to use their University position to organize, promote, or participate in a religious worship event,” stated the letter published by Fox News.
In the text, the FFRF highlighted that the “repeated constitutional violations at the University create a coercive environment that excludes those students who don’t subscribe to the Christian views being pushed onto players by their coaches.”
The religious event took place Tuesday night, at a lake on campus located approximately half a mile from Auburn University's Neville Arena. Reports indicate that hundreds of students lined up for hours to be baptized.
“It wasn’t a planned religious event. It was just a whole bunch of college students moved by their desire to follow Jesus,” said Mateo Arenas, a student at the university.
Anti-religion group threatens to ‘warn’ Auburn University after 200 kids baptized on campus: ‘Absolute joke’ https://t.co/xOf8HoMXYn
— Fox News (@FoxNews) September 24, 2023
FFRF letter is unconstitutional
Tyson Langhofer, senior attorney at Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian legal advocacy group, reacted to FFRF's letter and explained that it is actually the anti-religious group that is violating the Constitution.
“Religious coaches and students have the right to engage in religious activities on campus in their private capacity. FFRF’s desire to silence religious students sends a clear message: ‘You are not welcome here.’ That’s unconstitutional,” Langhofer said.
The Alliance Defending Freedom lawyer also pointed out that, since it is a public university, the institution has the “obligation to protect and promote free speech and free exercise of religion.”