Deion Sanders, NFL legend-turned-coach and outspoken Christian has been the target of criticism from the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), a secular activist group based in Madison, Wisconsin. The FFRF has accused Sanders of “inappropriate and unconstitutional actions” related to his “intermingling of football games and events with Christianity.”
The FFRF sent a Jan. 24 letter to the University of Colorado, where Sanders now coaches, after purported complaints from Colorado residents over the handling of faith and football. They claimed Sanders has been “engaging in religious exercises with players and staff members,” citing a staff-led Christian prayer to begin a meeting on December 20th, 2022, and a meeting on January 16th, 2023, where Sanders allegedly directed a staff member to lead players and coaches in prayer.
The FFRF requested the University of Colorado take action to protect students and let Sanders know “he has been hired as a football coach and not a pastor.” They asked for notification of how these sentiments would be communicated to Sanders.
In response, the University of Colorado sent a letter confirming the Office of Institutional Equity and Compliance had met with Sanders to address issues, including “guidance on the boundaries in which players and coaches may and may not engage in religious expression.” The letter stated Sanders was “very receptive to this training” and had “a better understanding of the University of Colorado’s policies and the requirements of the Establishment Clause.”
Sanders is no stranger to discussing his Christian faith. In a December 4th press conference commemorating his new head coaching position with the University of Colorado, Sanders praised the Lord over any self-accolades. He has also been candid about his struggles with health and faith. Last year, Sanders needed two toes on his left foot amputated after a blood clot diagnosis and eight surgeries. Despite the dire circumstances, Sanders thanked Jesus for his recovery.
“It was a blessing because I could have lost my life very easily. … It was there. It was a thought process of losing my leg from the knee down,” Sanders told Chris Neely of “Thee Pregame Show.” “It was almost there. So when I look up and say ‘Thank you, Jesus,’ it’s because I know the quiet cries at night that were in that hospital.”
“I got to really see God’s face and the different personalities of God, I feel,” he said.