Saturday, February 26, 2005
Air Force coach considers keeping team prayers
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- Air Force football coach Fisher
DeBerry, who was asked to remove a Christian banner from his locker
room last season, said religion can't be separated from football or
other parts of life.
He also told The Gazette on Friday that he would consider
continuing team prayers after football games.
"It's something we will have to consider, but this is our
foundation and this is what we're all about in Falcon football. I
don't think you separate religion from normal, everyday life,"
said DeBerry, 66. "Football, academics, military training --
everything -- all encompasses everything. Religion is a part of
Surveys have shown some cadets feel Christians get preferential
treatment at the school, and non-Christians reported being
harassed. As of November, the academy had received 55 complaints of
religious intolerance since 2000. It launched sensitivity training
Also in November, DeBerry posted a banner in the locker room
that read in part: "I am a Christian first and last. ... I am a
member of Team Jesus Christ." He removed it after academy leaders
said it was inappropriate.
Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. John Rosa said DeBerry can lead
postgame prayers, if they do not promote a particular religion.
"He understands he has a right to express his beliefs, but any
type of coercion isn't allowed. ... He is the last guy I think that
wants to offend anybody," Rosa said.
DeBerry told The Gazette that he advises his players to attend
church the day after games, most of which fall on Saturdays, but
that he doesn't force religion on players.