Walker County Football Coach In Trouble For Praying

Ridgeland County High School Football Coach Mark Mariakis is under fire from the Freedom From Religion Foundation.  They cite both pre-game prayers as well as the fact that local churches are often the location for pre-game meals for his team.  WRCB Chattanooga reports:

In an August 21 letter, FFRF Staff Attorney Andrew Seidel asked Walker County Schools Superintendent Damon Raines, to investigate complaints over practices by Mariakis. According to FFRF’s local complainant, Ridgeland, like Soddy Daisy and UTC, conducts prayers at school football games, and in this case often organized or led by Mariakis.

Mariakis is accused by the complainant of shuttling players to different churches for pre-game meals and “at these events the church’s preacher sermonizes to the players about the Christian religion.” Mariakis has stated publicly that the program “opens the door for some of the kids” and is “a way of meeting the need of the churches.” Ministers will “bless the food” and according to one church, “presented the Gospel of Jesus Christ” to the players.

FFRF is also calling attention to allegations that Mariakis uses bible verses as motivational tools and places pressure on players to attend a religious football camp. “Even if Mariakis is simply suggesting attendance, his position as head coach in charge of playing time, impregnates any suggestion with force. Playing time leads to scholarships and college; it should be a question of merit only, not religion,” Seidel wrote.”

Northwest Georgia is no stranger to controversy over attacks on religous activities at school sporting events.  The Ft. Oglethorpe High School Cheerleaders in neighboring Catoosa County were involved in a similar controversy in 2010, which briefly became part of some statewide political campaigns.


  1. John Konop says:

    If true he should be let go.

    …..The allegations against Mariakis include:

    –Holding pre-game meals at a local church, where a “preacher sermonizes to the players about the Christian religion.”

    –Pressuring players to attend a Christian football camp that the players must pay for.

    –Leading pre- and post-game prayers.

    –Using bible verses on team gear and in motivational speeches.

    –Taking the team to a Mormon church and afterwards making fun on the religion within the proximity of Mormon players…..


  2. James says:

    Wow, this post is over two hours old and I don’t see anyone screaming about attacks on religious freedom. I’m shocked.

  3. Rick Day says:

    I think this man would do very very well organizing and running a church league.

    Hopefully, he will get the chance, soon.

    Shades of Sanduski!

  4. SallyForth says:

    Let’s not pull a hamstring jumping to conclusions – the operative words here are “Freedom From Religion Foundation.” This controversy-loving group can and does make all sorts of accusations, in order to use the publicity for fundraising. How about we hang on a second, cut this coach some slack and see what, if any, of these accusations prove factual?

      • Calypso says:

        Ok, I’ll bite.

        Other than the irrelevant comment of Rick’s “Shades of Sanduski” to what conclusions has anyone jumped?

        • SallyForth says:

          Re-read all the posts, Calypso, and see if you don’t sense a certain bias. Mine was a cautionary post for folks who might be on the starting blocks.

          • Calypso says:

            John prefaces and qualifies his comments with “If true…”

            James seems surprised no one has screamed about attacks on religious freedoms.

            salty says not much freedom is there’s punishment to follow (I think that’s what he said, sometimes I have a little trouble following him, but I’m sure that’s just me)

            Rick implies salty is new to PP

            wicker seems to believe PP is unfriendly to SoCons

            Rick again with the aforementioned Sanduski reference

            Then you.

            What conclusions am I missing?

            • SallyForth says:

              Aw, Calypso – “seems,” “implies” and words like that indicate individual interpretation. Let’s just let it go, since somebody “seems” to have gotten up on the wrong side of the bed this morning. 🙂

      • seenbetrdayz says:

        Well, someone did throw the red meat out there. *cough* Charlie *cough cough*

        I was half hoping that no one would reply, just to see if people could resist the temptation. 🙂

  5. I Miss the 90s says:

    I hope the coach is fired. Not only OS there no room.for this behavior, athletics do not belong in educational institutions.

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