BOWDON, Ga. - At Bowdon High school, about 80 people came together in prayer Thursday night. It happened first, at the entrance to Warren Sewell Football Field and then taking their prayer to the stadium itself.
It was the Red Devil Prayer Group showing for the Villa Rica High School Football team. A video produced by First Baptist of Villa Rica shows the football coach being baptized by the church pastor on the field. Then numerous players also were dunked in the name of Christ.
"Separation of church and state I understand we can't mesh them both together in school but for us as Christians there's no separation where ever we go we go with our lord," said Kevin Geter who led the group in prayer.
Members said their group name is derived from the school mascot the Red Devils and their deeply held faith. Many wore purple, the color of the Villa Rica football team.
A group leader told FOX 5 News they meet regularly at Sewell Field at Bowdon High school on Thursday nights. Their prayers they said are offered for their football team, opposing teams, fans and on Thursday night for the Villa Rica football coach and players caught up in the separation of church and state controversy.
The Red Devil Prayer group meets at the school football field. Leaders said it's a proper use of SPLOST, Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax. And they believe the same applies to Villa Rica High.
They meet on school grounds they said after a recent Special purpose local option sales tax, SPLOST, allocated money for improvements here and Villa Rica High School.
"These facilities, we paid for them and they're a public property and we're allowed to use them so those people were using their Carroll County rights, their United State Rights and their state of Georgia rights to exercise their freedom of religion," said Leslie Andrews with the Red Devil Prayer Group.
The Villa Rica video caught the attention of Wisconsin-based Freedom from Religion Foundation. Their attorney said in a written statement that "it is illegal for coaches to participate in religious activities religious activities with students including prayers and baptisms. Nor can coaches allow religious leaders to gain unique access to students during school sponsored activities."
People at the prayer group said otherwise
"We support Villa Rica because like with the first amendment, you have your religious freedom and no one can take that away from you and with us here it's more of a community thing with us we do it with our community," said Bryston Ivey, a football player on the Bowdon team.
FOX 5 News reached out to the Carroll County School District, but a phone call was not returned. In a previous written statement the district said " The Carroll County School System was made was made aware of the situation that took place at Villa Rica High School. The district is currently looking into specifics of this situation and will take appropriate steps to ensure all state and federal laws are followed."