A video shared on Facebook captured Pastor Gary Few conducting baptisms of high school football players in a black tub, declaring, “I baptize you now, my brother, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” The surrounding players celebrated as their teammates underwent the ritual.
However, the video sparked controversy, leading an individual to inform the atheist activist group, The Freedom from Religion Foundation. Chris Line, the staff attorney for the group, sent a letter to Tattnall County School District Superintendent Kristen Waters on November 1, urging an investigation into the incident. Line emphasized the need for the football program to remain secular and expressed concern about Coach Ferrell’s involvement in religious activities.
Superintendent Waters clarified that Coach Ferrell’s removal was related to an undisclosed incident on November 3, following a football game, rather than the baptisms. Emphasizing the district’s commitment to student safety, she stated that they sought a new head football coach for the 2024-2025 school year aligned with the students’ best interests.
While Ferrell remains a teacher at the high school, an ongoing investigation addresses the baptism incident. The district refrains from commenting on other allegations during ongoing investigations.
Social media reactions to the baptisms varied, with some applauding Ferrell for positively impacting the players’ lives. However, opinions on his termination differed, with some supporting it, stating that religious beliefs should be kept private, while others, like Riley Gaines, commended Ferrell for leading the players to a spiritual experience.
Latifa Johnson, a parent of one baptized student, expressed disappointment over Ferrell’s dismissal, emphasizing the importance of having a spiritual leader for those who believe.