‘Twisted’: Anti-religion group calls University’s mass campus baptism ‘inappropriate and unconstitutional’

An amazing thing happened at Auburn University on Tuesday, Sept. 12.

Following a “Unite Auburn” worship event at the campus, more than 200 students moved about half a mile from the site of the program to a lake at Auburn’s Red Barn venue and were baptized.

(Video: YouTube)

“This was a great moment of Auburn being Auburn!” Auburn senior Michael Floyd told Fox News Digital at the time. “Thousands gathered to unapologetically seek Jesus, and hundreds took their next step.”

Helping to baptize at least one of the worshippers in Alabama was Auburn Tigers head football coach Hugh Freeze.

Now he is being accused of violating the Constitution’s Establishment Clause by an anti-religion activist group, according to Fox News Digital.

“These ongoing and 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 Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) wrote to Auburn University President Christopher Roberts on Friday.

“Auburn University is a public university, not a religious one,” FFRF continued. “It is inappropriate and unconstitutional for University employees to use their University position to organize, promote, or participate in a religious worship event. Nor can Auburn’s coaches proselytize or participate in religious activities with students or hire a chaplain to do so.”

The FFRF’s stated purpose is “to promote the constitutional principle of separation of state and church, and to educate the public on matters relating to nontheism,” according to its website. The non-profit claims to be “the nation’s largest freethought association with more than 39,000 freethinkers: atheists, agnostics and skeptics of any pedigree.”

Tyson Langhofer, senior counsel and director of the Center for Academic Freedom with Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), says the FFRF’s letter reveals a “twisted interpretation of the First Amendment.”

“Freedom From Religion Foundation’s twisted interpretation of the First Amendment has the potential to crush both students’ and their coaches’ essential right to live out their faith,” he told Fox News Digital in a statement.

ADF is “the world’s largest legal organization committed to protecting religious freedom, free speech, the sanctity of life, parental rights, and God’s design for marriage and family,” its website boasts, and Fox News Digital reports that it “is one of the most successful Supreme Court litigation firms, winning numerous cases dealing with First Amendment and religious freedoms.”

“Public universities are supposed to be the marketplace of ideas and have an obligation to protect and promote free speech and free exercise of religion,” Langhofer said.

Citing a SCOTUS ruling, Langhofer said FFRF is the one violating the Constitution.

“As the Supreme Court recently reaffirmed in the Coach Kennedy case, religious coaches and students have the right to engage in religious activities on campus in their private capacity,” he said. “FFRF’s desire to silence religious students sends a clear message: ‘You are not welcome here.’ That’s unconstitutional.”

“Everyone was just in awe of what God was doing that night,” Kenzie Gay, a senior at Auburn, told Fox.

“It was one of the most beautiful things I had ever gotten to witness because there was such a genuine joy and sense of peace in the air,” she said. “I would look back toward campus and constantly see mobs of flashlights from more students that were running to come to join the crowd.”

Student Mateo Arenas agreed.

“What was so great about these baptisms is that it wasn’t a planned religious event. It was just a whole bunch of college students moved by their desire to follow Jesus,” he said. “It took me about 45 minutes to get to where the baptisms were held due to the amount of traffic of people who wanted to go witness the event themselves. Once there, it was quite a sight to see, people dedicating their lives to Jesus without fear, just a whole lot of love.”


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