Tattnall County High School in Georgia has dismissed Coach Isaac Ferrell from his position as the football team’s coach.
The decision comes after an event that took place last month on public school property, where Pastor Gary Few baptized 20 members of the football team.
The school district officials have not specified the nature of the incident that led to Coach Ferrell’s dismissal. Tattnall County School District Superintendent Kristen Waters emphasized, “The safety and security of our students is paramount to Tattnall County Board of Education.”
According to WSAV, Waters stated, “Based on the outcome of an investigation into an incident that occurred Friday night, November 3rd while traveling after the football game, the District decided that it would seek a Head football coach that aligned with the best interests of the students of Tattnall County for the 2024-2025 school year.” Waters also mentioned that the district does not comment on ongoing investigations.
Despite being relieved of his coaching duties, Coach Ferrell remains a teacher with the school district, as reported by WSAV.
The controversy surrounding Coach Ferrell began in October when he oversaw an event behind the high school’s football field, during which Pastor Gary Few baptized 20 student-athletes. This event caught the attention of the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), a Wisconsin-based organization advocating for the separation of church and state.
On November 1, FFRF Staff Attorney Christopher Line sent a complaint letter to the school district, urging an investigation into the situation and requesting that the school-sponsored religious activity be halted. Line emphasized, “The District must refrain from infusing its football program with religion, and Coach Ferrell cannot be allowed to preach to student athletes or allow a local pastor to preach to and baptize students.” Line pointed out the illegality of public school athletic coaches involving others, such as pastors, in religious activities like prayer, proselytizing, and baptisms.
The response to the baptism event has been mixed. Some, like local resident Latifa Johnson, expressed support for the ceremony. Johnson’s son, a sophomore at the high school, was one of the players baptized at the event. She shared, “I was extremely proud of him because he made the decision on his own. I didn’t have to hold his hand, and he did it because he wanted to do it.” Johnson described the atmosphere as positive, with the boys appearing excited about the ceremony.
She added, “It was so sweet because you see the boys and they looked like they wanted it. … You know, like everyone looked excited, from the ones I was able to see. So was cheering thank you, God. Yes, yes, yes. I was all for it.”