Reeltown baptisms draw complaint from religious freedom group

The baptism of 26 Reeltown High School football players on the 50-yard-line in their football stadium has drawn complaints from a group who pushes for separation of church and state.

After the players were baptized in a tub on the field at their request in November 2019, the Wisconsin-based Freedom from Religion Foundation demanded an investigation.

Michael Altman, a religious studies professor at the University of Alabama, said the Wisconsin group “is doing its best to call attention to a practice it finds unconstitutional by trying to take a local story national.”

Tallapoosa County Schools Superintendent Joe Windle told Alabama Media Group he found no wrongdoing because the baptism was not conducted by the school. 

Windle said he knew about the baptism, since he had spoken with Coach Matt Johnson ahead of time. He said he approved as long as it wasn’t a team requirement for everyone to attend — and that it wasn’t sponsored by school employees.

“The coach told me it would happen, and I told the coach he couldn’t be involved,” said Windle, who did not attend the baptisms. “I said that I had no problem with it, to be sure they get two pastors to do it and to be sure that they do it and that (Coach Johnson) stay out of it and that’s what we did.”

Several other students had their baptisms at their churches, Windle said. (AP)