Georgia Tech’s chaplain Derrick Moore prays with the football team after defeating the Miami Hurricanes at Bobby Dodd Stadium on Saturday, October 4, 2014. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

Group calls Georgia Tech chaplain role ‘unconstitutional’

Georgia Tech president G.P. “Bud” Peterson has been asked to address the role of football team chaplain Derrick Moore by a group identifying itself as a watchdog for the separation of church and state. The Freedom From Religion Foundation charged Tech with holding policies that “fail to properly protect your student athletes’ rights of conscience and pose a high degree of risk of discrimination.”

» Group challenges Georgia chaplain as well.

Moore is under contract with the Georgia Tech Athletic Association and has been associated with the team for several years. He is also on staff with Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Among his roles are leading voluntary chapel services and meeting with players individually in a spiritual and personal guidance capacity. He is perhaps most known for pep talks that he has given to the team prior to games. The foundation’s letter to Peterson asserted that “the chaplain’s actions are attributable to the university and those actions are unconstitutional.”

The foundation said that it also sent a letter to Tech players, which included the message that “your school has allowed coaches to have improper and unconstitutional influence over players’ protected and personal decisions related to religion.”

Thursday, a Tech spokeswoman said the school received the letter Wednesday and had not yet responded. Tech was among 20 schools who have been contacted by the foundation. Georgia is also being asked to “bench” its chaplain. Last year, the group lodged similar complaints against Clemson and coach Dabo Swinney.

The foundation identifies itself as “the nation’s largest association of freethinkers (atheists, agnostics)” and “has been working since 1978 to keep religion and government separate.”

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