by: Catherine Bilkey Updated:
MOORESVILLE, N.C. - A coach has been asked to stop leading team prayers at Mooresville High School after a Wisconsin organization advocating for the separation of church and state complained to the school district.
Coach Hal Capps would only say they’re moving forward, and apologized for having to decline the interview. A lot of people in the community are talking on his behalf, supporting him.
“I think he's doing what he thinks is right,” Glenn Sander said.
“I don't think he's forcing anybody; it's all their decision,” Maribeth Stewart said.
Capps is a high school football coach so popular an entire cheering section is named after him. He's a leader on the field and, some say, a leader for the church.
“The more people who hear about Jesus the better,” Stewart said.
But talking about Jesus has gotten Capps in trouble.
“It's really inappropriate, wrong and unconstitutional for a coach to try to use that position to try and convert people to his religion,” Patrick Elliott, with the Freedom from Religion Foundation, said.
Eyewitness News obtained the letter sent to the Mooresville Graded School District saying Capps "frequently prays with football players at team events and encourages them to go to church and to become baptized." The letter included a Twitter picture of a player's baptism. The coach declined to comment, but the school district said Capps was invited to that baptism by the player. They said he was not leading it, and it happened outside of school hours, off of school property.
“I think it's important to be able express ourselves, our beliefs,” Stewart said.
Despite community-wide support, even a twitter hashtag saying #isupportcapps, the district said the coach has agreed to stop leading prayers at team events.