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For week ended April 09, 2000 Posted 24 Feb 2001
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Sent on Mormon-News: 05Apr00

Summarized by Kent Larsen

ACLU Action Unlikely Against LDS Coach That Gave Blessings
Deseret News 4Apr00 D2
By Amy Donaldson: Deseret News sports writer

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- Mountain View High School girls basketball coach, Dave Houle, may not have to endure a court case because of giving LDS blessings of comfort to some of his players. The ACLU says that it is unlikely to take any action over the issue, which came to light in a newspaper article during the recently-ended basketball season.

As reported in Mormon News [see Houle reportedly gave the blessings in a "private setting" to players that asked for them. All the players on his team are members of the LDS Church. A reporter learned of the practice and mentioned it in a newspaper article, leading to criticism of Houle and several complaints to the ACLU. The principal of Mountain View High School has told Houle to discontinue the practice.

"The chances of us doing anything about this is nil," says ACLU attorney Andrew McCullough. "This is not the ACLU versus the Church (of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) . . . I know this is inappropriate from anybody's viewpoint. If we saw this as a wide spread practice, then we might (file a lawsuit), But this is clearly against Church policy, too. If we did anything, it would be to talk to the Church first and then the school board. Someone pointed it out, and it got fixed."

But Houle doesn't think he did anything wrong, "I know what I did was right," he says. " . . . I know how innocent it was." He says that since the article appeared, the blessings have become a "public spectacle," but that he still wouldn't change what he did, "If one of my players asks for a blessing away from school, I'm going to do it," he said. "I'm going to practice my religion . . . If anybody asked me for a blessing, I don't care if it's about a game, or sickness, or parents having trouble or my daughter, I'm going to give it. Am I going to do it on school grounds? No. No one can stop me from practicing my religion. I will stand accountable to my Heavenly Father. I will not do anything that will embarrass the prophet, the church or my Heavenly Father."


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