The head football coach at Ole Miss remains unconcerned that an atheist group is condemning the Christian messages he sends out on his personal Twitter account.
Hugh Freeze, the University of Mississippi's head football coach, regularly sends out Bible verses and Christian messages via his private Twitter account. But last month, the Freedom From Religion Foundation challenged the coach on his faith-based tweets, saying he shouldn't be promoting his personal religious beliefs "while acting in his capacity as a university employee."
"The @CoachHughFreeze Twitter handle appears to be an official account used in his capacity as head coach, given the account name and that the university publicizes Freeze's tweets," the atheist group said in an April 7 press release.
FFRF also argues that in publishing the coach's Twitter account on the official Ole Miss sports website, "the university creates the appearance that it endorses Freeze's tweets and the religious promotion therein."
OneNewsNow sought comment from Jeremy Dys of First Liberty. The attorney says FFRF has it wrong.
"The First Amendment protects the right of all Americans, like football coaches or the 'average Joe,' to be able to engage in religious expression on their personal Twitter accounts," he tells OneNewsNow. "That should be above question at this point in our country's history – and yet we still have demonstrations of intolerance, and frankly of bullying, by groups that simply disagree with the message."
Dys also contests the argument about the school's role in publishing the coach's messages. "The university ought to be a place where tolerance and inclusivity and diversity ... are promoted," he states. "And here you have group that is resorting to one of the grossest forms of intolerance and bullying that I can imagine."
FFRF also has expressed its objection to tweets from Ole Miss offensive recruiting coordinator Maurice Harris, who is also an unabashed Christian.
Christian News reports the coach "appears to be unfazed" by the warnings from the atheist group, citing several Christian references in his tweets in the weeks following. Freeze currently has 184,000 Twitter followers.
Liberty Institute has encouraged Ole Miss to simply ignore the FFRF.