Wichita high school football coach weighs in on team prayer issue taken up by Supreme Court

The case out of Washington has started the conversation in small communities and public high schools across the U.S.
Published: Apr. 26, 2022 at 12:11 AM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - As Supreme Court justices decide whether a former Washington high school football coach’s rights were violated after he lost his job after refusing to stop praying with his team on the field after games, coaches in Kansas have opinions of their own.

The case out of Washington has started the conversation in small communities and public high schools, asking if it is okay for coaches to lead students in prayer before or after games. Wichita Heights High School Head Football Coach Dominick Dingle said he’s been following the national case closely and sees no issue with expressing his own views on the field. He said prayer before games has never been a conflict of interest while he’s been at Heights.

“Not very much an issue. I think every program, every school around the country has the ability to say what they want to be about and be who they all want to be. And then they have the ability to say, ‘you know, I don’t wanna partake, or ‘I don’t want to be a part of that.’”

With his team, Dingle said no one is made to pray on his field, but as a man of faith, he says he chooses to show that on the field.

“Prior to the game, we have an optional prayer where it’s led by me, but it’s totally optional and the players have the ability to be a part of that or they have the ability to not be part of that,” he said.

Dingle said it’s optional for all members of the program, both players and staff. If a member of the team does not feel comfortable praying in a group, or if a prayer does not align with their ideological beliefs, coaches just ask that they reflect silently on something they’re grateful for.

Dingle said the separation of church and state is important and the decision to pray does not reflect the school’s views, only those of him and the athletes who decide to join.

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