The Hamilton County Commission and U-T-C have both been in the groups cross-hairs the last couple of weeks. Now Ridgeland County football coach Mark Mariakis is feeling the heat over prayer before football games.
Mariakis is at the center of a first amendment controversy, according to the Wisconsin based Freedom From Religion Foundation, but local residents and students say they stand behind his pre game prayers.
"I think it's silly because we are not pressuring you to pray, it's just something that we do at Ridgeland and as teammates it's not coaches that really push us to do it," says Courtney Ketner, a student at Ridgeland High School.
"We have freedom of speech and I believe that it seems to me that the only ones that are suffering are the Christians. If they don't believe in it, they don't have to pray, but don't take our rights away because we do want to pray," says Sherri Barbee, who supports the pre-game prayers.
The Foundation says violations include, leading prayer at football games, shuttling his team to pre-game meals at churches, and pressuring players to attend a religious football camp.
"Coach Mariakis is a great guy. He's a Christian obviously but he's not one to judge if you are not, and he's understanding about everything and he's a great guy and a great coach," adds Courtney Ketner.
"I think that Mark Mariakis is a very very nice guy and he is doing what he is supposed to be doing and the Lord has spoke to him and he is doing what the Lord has put on his heart to do for these children," says Amber Goodwin.
The Walker County School System issued a statement saying <quote> "We received an email from Mr. Andrew Seidel representing Freedom From Religion Foundation. We are in receipt of this letter and are in the process of reviewing it's contents."
"I don't think it's over bearing, it's just a prayer and I don't think anyone should have a problem with that, because it's our beliefs we should be able to do what we want," adds Ridgeland student Kelcie Ketner.
"To stop someone from practicing their religion is wrong. We don't go and stop someone from practicing what you don't believe in so why would you stop us but I mean if you want to judge that's ok but we do what we do," adds Courtney Ketner.
Walker County School Systems say they received the e-mail Tuesday morning. Coach Mariakis was not available for comment today.