Softball Players Kicked Off Team for Not Being Mormon

From ThinkProgress:

Three public school students in Mesa, Arizona, including a team captain, were allegedly removed from their varsity softball team, in part because they did not want to start each game with a “team prayer.” According to a complaint filed in a federal court in Arizona, the three girls were “penalized for not conducting ‘team prayer’ in accordance with the directive of Joseph Goodman,” the team’s coach. Coach Goodman, allegedly acted “for himself and at the behest of certain parents that were part of the [Mormon] Church.”

 The complaint paints a picture of a community where Mormon parents and students demanded the ability to micromanage other students’ lives. During a 2014 tournament, for example, the suit alleges that the plaintiffs liked to play “contemporary hip-hop and other popular music liked by teenage girls,” but that they were punished for doing so because one girl on the team thought that the music offended her “religious sensitivities.” At another point, the suit alleges that this girl’s parent monitored tweets sent by one of the three plaintiffs, and that certain “[s]ocial media postings made” by this plaintiff “were reported by certain [Mormon] Church members to Joseph Goodman at his direction and request.”

These “social media postings” allegedly also played a role in the decision to punish this plaintiff. Yet, it is unclear what exactly she said that community members found offensive. According to a brief filed by the plaintiffs’ attorney, “[w]hile Plaintiffs have asked the school and Joseph Goodman to identify the speech that materially interfered with school district operations,” the brief explains, “exactly zero information was provided.”

The school, for its part, defends its decision to punish a student for her music and out-of-school comments by arguing that Goodman had a right to sanction someone who endangered “team morale and unity.” The plaintiffs’ allegations, the school claims, “show that their music and social media activity during a school sponsored event actually disrupted at least one of their teammates, upset some parents and caused conflict among the athletes and with their coach.”




  1. John Mansfield says:

    It’ll be more interesting when there is more than claims in the plaintiffs’ lawsuit to go on.

  2. Kemp Farnsworth says:

    Was this a charter school? These claims of disciplining on religious basis don’t sound like anything Mesa Public Schools would sanction.

  3. When will we start requiring a belief in all 13 Articles of Faith? I am constantly amazed at the ability for Mormons in areas in which they are the majority, to totally ignore that we extend the right if individual choice and allow all the right to worship how, where of what they may.

    It makes me grateful to not live I’m the Mormon corridor.

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