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Douglas Andrews / December 9, 2021

It’s BLM vs. Jesus at a Midwest University

A former college football coach was fired soon after removing a Black Lives Matter poster from his office door.

Time was when being a Christian in this country was a virtue. These days, though, it’ll get you fired. Just ask Kurt Beathard.

Beathard, the former offensive coordinator for Illinois State University, is suing the school’s head football coach, Brock Spack, and its former athletic director, Larry Lyons, claiming his First Amendment rights were violated after he replaced a Black Lives Matter poster that was on his office door with another poster.

Perhaps Beathard’s dismissal had something to do with what his handwritten poster said: “All Lives Matter to Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

Or perhaps the real outrage, given the rampant leftism and wokeism on our nation’s college campuses these days, was that Beathard removed a message promoting a racist, divisive, money-grubbing, Marxist pressure group. Or perhaps it was a combination of both: No to BLM, yes to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Beathard is the son of former NFL Hall of Famer Bobby Beathard, the longtime general manager of the Washington Redskins Football Team. The younger Beathard had been coaching football for some 25 years when he joined the ISU Redbirds, and his team’s offenses set records in 2014 and 2015, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit also notes that in late spring and early summer of 2020, Beathard’s wife became very sick with cancer and died on June 13. After taking a leave for bereavement, Beathard returned to the ISU campus later that summer — the long, hot summer of riots and racial tension following the death of career criminal George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin. When he returned, he found the BLM poster on his door, which he replaced with his own poster. Here’s his lawyer’s explanation of what Beathard saw, and what he replaced it with:

Was Beathard’s removal of the BLM poster an act of racism? No, not according to the lawsuit, nor according to the plaintiff’s lengthy work history:

Throughout his career, Beathard has successfully worked with young men of all races. While he believes black lives matter, he is opposed to the Black Lives Matter organization because it was founded by self-described “trained Marxists,” it divides human beings by skin color, and it supports violence and property destruction.

“The obvious defense,” writes constitutional law professor Jonathan Turley in a blog post, “is that Beathard was fired over his performance as a coach. College football, like professional football, is notorious for staff changes both during and at the end of seasons. Coaches often are held accountable for the failures of a team. This could force a jury to delve into the relative strength of the offense to address the allegations of a pretextual termination.”

What might prove inconvenient for the school, though, is that in late summer, after Beathard had returned to campus, its athletic director, Lyons, led a Zoom meeting with student-athletes whose goal was to encourage unity. Lyons concluded that meeting by saying, “All Redbirds Lives Matter,” a message that wasn’t well received by some athletes. Lyons apologized, and he ultimately retired from the university a month later.

About two days after Lyons’s virtual meeting, Beathard was approached by Head Coach Spack and asked to remove his handmade poster. He took it down that day. Some football players found out about the poster, though, and some of them boycotted practice. A few days later, Spack fired Beathard.

But, yeah, it was because Beathard’s offense just wasn’t clicking.

As Turley continues: “The other problem is the boycott and whether, regardless of the merits, the offense had broken down due to the conflict between Beathard and his players. Yet, the university guarantees employees that they retain free speech rights and, as a state school, Beathard has the protections afforded under the First Amendment.”

Those protections are clearly spelled out in the school’s “Anti-Harassment and Non-Discrimination Policy.”

It’ll be interesting to see whether a court of law believes those protections have merit — and whether the court believes Beathard was fired because his offensive schemes weren’t getting it done on the field, or because his deeply held political and religious beliefs were trumped by those of Black Lives Matter and “social justice.”

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