Tattnall County High School has fired head football coach Isaac Ferrell nearly three weeks after he held a Christian baptism for some of his players after practice. Ferrell, who remains employed by the Tattnall County School District as a teacher, was allegedly fired due to an incident that occurred following a football game on Nov. 3.
According to WSAV, some 20 players were baptized by Pastor Gary Few, at the behest of Ferrell, in a ceremony that took place following practice on Oct. 23. The ceremony elicited complaints from the Freedom from Religion Foundation, which accused Ferrell of "abusing his position" and wrote a letter calling for superintendent Kristen Waters to "ensure that this school-sponsored religious coercion ends immediately."
Despite the negative attention brought to the school district, a statement issued by the superintendent suggested Ferrell's dismissal was not related to the baptism.
"The safety and security of our students is paramount to Tattnall County Board of Education. Based on the outcome of an investigation into an incident that occurred Friday night, November 3rd while traveling after the football game, the District decided that it would seek a Head football coach that aligned with the best interests of the students of Tattnall County for the 2024-2025 school year," read the statement issued to WSAV. "As to any other allegations, the District does not comment during ongoing investigations."
Despite the separation of church and state concerns raised, some felt that Ferrell's faith made him a positive role model for the players. Latifa Johnson, the mother of a player at Tattnall County, was among those who spoke in support of Ferrell and her son participating in the baptism.
"It was so sweet because you see the boys and they looked like they wanted it," Johnson told WSAV. "You know, like everyone looked excited, from the ones I was able to see. So was cheering thank you, God. Yes, yes, yes. I was all for it."