The Freedom From Religion Foundation is on a “fact finding” mission involving the Mississippi State Athletic Department, co-president of the organization Annie Laurie Gaylor confirmed Monday night.
The FFRF is looking into the Bulldog athletic teams and its two chaplains, Matt Jolley and Bill Buckley.
“We are looking into suspicions that there are things going on at this public university that go beyond what’s permitted under our Constitution of separation of church and state,” Gaylor said.
The FFRF contacted MSU on Sept. 11 asking for records on the two chaplains and the Bulldog football team. MSU did not comment on the situation.
The request asked for seven specific things. First, information on university and athletic department policies concerning coach or clergy-led prayers for student athletes.
They also wanted information on announcements involving religious services, prayer gatherings, Bible studies, Fellowship of Christian Athletes meetings or other religious activities in which either chaplain was involved.
They also requested information on communication between the football program and Jolley or Buckley, records related to the two traveling with the team and reimbursements made to them.
The FFRF also wanted to know about any job postings involving the spiritual development of Bulldog football players, and any other records related to the duties of the chaplains.
“We don’t think a public university should have a chaplain,” Gaylor said. “This is not a Christian university and we don’t live in a theocracy, but we are trying to ascertain exactly what’s going on.”
The group investigated Ole Miss earlier in the month on similar grounds.
The FFRF’s website states, “The Foundation works as an umbrella for those who are free from religion and are committed to the cherished principle of separation of state and church.”