I sometimes am in the position of being present where prayers are being said and, even though I am an atheist, I always bow my head to some extent as a mark of respect for the occasion and the feelings of the people around me. So bowing your head may or may not indicate what your beliefs are and it is an impertinence to be making any enquiry about it or making any criticism of it. It is an entirely personal matter
Several public high school football coaches in Westmoreland, Tenn. are in trouble for bowing their heads during a student-led prayer before a recent game. According to local NBC affiliate WSMV, the coaches didn’t say anything aloud themselves, but bowed their heads in observance alongside the students.
Word got back to the principal and the school district, which found the coaches’ participation to be an uncomfortable mix of religion and public school. “We’ve been telling our principals to kind of be looking for those things, because that is kind of a shift in how things have been done,” district spokesman Jeremy Johnson told WSMV. “It can in no way appear like it’s endorsed by Sumner County Schools personnel.”
The coaches weren’t disciplined, but were made to sign letters indicating they understood the school’s policy, which prohibits staff from appearing to participate in a student prayer in any way, even if it takes place after hours.
But resident Tony Bentle, who has been refereeing football games in the town for years, said crackdown “blew [his] mind.” “We’re just respectful, God-fearing people up here,” he said. “Nobody in this town is offended if you pray. Nobody.”