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For week ended March 26, 2000 Posted 24 Feb 2001
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News about Mormons, Mormonism,
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Sent on Mormon-News: 23Mar00

Summarized by Kent Larsen

ACLU Examining Mountain View Coach's Blessings
Salt Lake Tribune 23Mar00 D6
By Lya Wodraska: Salt Lake Tribune

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- The ACLU's Utah chapter says it may look at a High School girl's basketball coach's practice of giving LDS blessings of comfort to team members before games. The ACLU learned of the practice from a Salt Lake Tribune column published during the Utah state tournament in February. The column described the coach's practice.

The ACLU says it has received many calls complaining about the blessings, given by Mountain View High School girls basketball coach Dave Houle in what he describes as a 'voluntary and private setting.' However, the ACLU does note that none of the calls came from Mountain View players or parents, "We're seriously concerned it is a violation of the separation of church and state," said the ACLU's Utah chapter director Carol Gnade. "We'll continue to collect complaints, then determine if we should do an investigation."

Houle has since been instructed by Mountain View Principal Bill Delaney to discontinue the practice. Delaney consulted with the School District, and determined that the practice violate's the law, "He has been told to never do it again, because it is against the law," Delaney said.

But Houle resents the interest in the matter, "First of all, I don't feel like it is anybody's business," he said. "I'm not in any hot water about it. I'm LDS and so are the kids and they were blessings of comfort and not of sickness. I don't care what the ACLU or what anybody else thinks." He says that until the current fracas, no one has ever complained about the practice, which is something many LDS parents do for their children. He says it was never meant to offend anyone. "Nobody was forced and nobody was pushed into doing it, but certain individuals wanted it," Houle said. "These were just LDS children who were uptight before a game and wanted a blessing of comfort."

Houle has become more and more annoyed at the dispute over the blessings, "It infuriates me that we have all these problems out there in the world and they're worried about what we're doing in high school that is voluntary," he said. "I haven't heard any complaints."


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