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Religious Rights Lawsuit Initiated After Student Forced to Eat Pepperoni Pizza

January 28th, 2022

A former high school football player filed a lawsuit claiming he was forced to eat pepperoni pizza, which is against his religious beliefs.

A former high school student who was a football player at McKinley High School in Canton, Ohio recently filed a lawsuit after he was forced to eat pepperoni pizza. Eating pork is against his family’s religious beliefs, so school officials violated his civil rights, the suit claims.

The Basis of the Pepperoni Pizza Lawsuit

The lawsuit filed against the high school seeks injunctive relief as well as damages after coaches allegedly required the 17-year old player to eat pepperoni because he failed to attend a weight class. The player claims that the coaches ordered him to eat a pepperoni pizza while he was surrounded by his teammates. The player also claims the coaches threatened him with possible removal from the football team if he refused.

The player who originated the lawsuit is a Hebrew Israelite, which is a religion that prohibits the consumption of pork

The Canton City school board terminated the school’s football coach as well as several assistant coaches following an investigation that determined the coaches required the player to go against his religious beliefs by consuming pepperoni pizza.

The attorney for the former coach as well as one of the assistant coaches recently released a statement that no settlement was made with the school district because Ohio law states that coaches have great discretion in training as well as disciplining players. The lawyer also commented that many cases have been thrown out from court involving “real” misconduct by coaches that led to the significant harm and even the death of students. The state of Ohio, however, is immune from lawsuits where coaches act within their discretion. Consequently, the lawyer commented, any settlement from the district would represent a waste of public funds. 

The Religious Rights of Public School Students

Public school students in Ohio as well as the rest of the country have various rights when it comes to their religious beliefs. Some of these rights include:

  • The right to express religious beliefs in school assignments without facing judgment 
  • The right to be excused from lessons that would substantially hinder a student’s exercise of religion 
  • The right to pray in a non-disruptive manner when not partaking in school activities or instruction 
  • The right to communicate with other students and try to persuade them about religious topics
  • The right to utilize school facilities for religious activities on an equal basis with other school organizations
  • The right to display religious messages to the degree that students are allowed to communicate secular messages 

Response to the Lawsuit

The lawyer representing the student informed the news that the situation is a sad matter and that the lawsuit was filed following a delay of settlement that was previously created with the school district. Spokespeople from the Canton City school have declined to comment on the matter.

The Goal of the Universal Life Church

Many religious rights originate from the United States Constitution. Each week in the United States, however, cases test the exact boundaries and nature of these rights. The Universal Life Church’s blog focuses on documenting religious rights issues and does so in a way that can be easily understood by readers.

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