South Carolina Coach Refuses to Apologize For Religious Statement

A South Carolina basketball coach has refused to apologize for saying there is “something wrong” with people who don’t believe in God. During an interview after her team’s win over Oregon State, Dawn Staley proudly declared her belief, saying when people are at their worst, God is at his best, and all anyone needs to do is “look at him.”

Questioned about her statement that there is “something wrong” with nonbelievers, Staley said it was just a figure of speech, and if people don’t understand what she’s saying, they should just “tune out.” The coach insisted she would not apologize because she knew God was real, evidenced by her own life events. “I’m gonna salute God as much as I can,” she added.

Some supporters, however, criticized Staley, saying she insulted atheist fans. Still, many people on Twitter came to the coach’s defense. One poster wrote that Christians are persecuted when they express their beliefs in public, and others praised her courage for sticking to her convictions in the face of backlash.

Staley is a basketball Hall of Fame player and coach who regularly posts about her religious devotion online. In early April, she was named the Associated Press Coach of the Year – an award she won for the second time.

As a player at the University of Virginia, she led her team in four NCAA tournaments and a national championship game. In 1991 and 1992, she was the national player of the year and left the university as its highest-ever scorer. Staley played with Team USA during the Atlanta Olympics in 1996, winning the gold medal. She credits God with the successes of her life, but her latest proclamation has caught the attention of pro-religious freedom activists.

Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), said Staley has no boundaries when “pushing religion on a captive audience” and that “her understanding of freedom of conscience is exceptionally bad.”