When I was a little kid, my cousin, who was an actual Catholic Arch Bishop (Archbishop of Anchorage) came over to the house one day, and I saw family elders approach him, one by one, genuflect and kiss his ring. Then one or two of my relatives brought him sacred objects for him to bless. One of the objects was the wooden cross that hung on our wall, similar to others hanging on Catholic walls in other Catholic homes, near the main entrance way to the house. It was hollow and included several items that would be used for the performance of either extreme unction (the “last rights”) or, if necessary, an exorcism. Two candles, some holy water, the instruction manuals for last rights and exorcism, etc.
Other sacred objects were brought to him as well (rosaries, a bottle of magic oil, etc.) and he blessed them all.
So, not wanting to be left out, I brought him my football helmet, which, grinning, he happily blessed as well.
Then I brought him my teddy bear, which he also blessed.
Then, when I was on my way to bringing him my Bop the Beetle game to bless, someone tackled me and put an end to that nonsense.
And all that was OK, because it was all done in the privacy of our own home. But it is NOT ok to systematically bless the football helmets in a public high school. Even if your team really sucks and you are desperate.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation fired off a letter to the Redlands [Calif.] Unified School District over a serious violation of the separation of church and state occurring at Redlands High School football practices and games. A complainant informed FFRF, which has over 15,500 members nationwide and 2,450 members in California, that the team and coach regularly recite the Lord’s Prayer and traditionally open the first practice of the season with a “blessing of the helmets.”
“First and foremost, it is illegal for a public school athletic coach to be leading his team in prayer,” remarked FFRF Staff Attorney Patrick Elliott. “The Supreme Court has continually struck down formal and teacher or school-led prayer in public schools.”
“Federal law dictates that government employees must refrain from actively participating in religious activities while acting within their governmental role to avoid any perception of government endorsement of religion,” the Foundation’s letter noted.