Canton McKinley head football coach Marcus Wattley and six of his assistants were fired last week following allegations the coaches forced a 17-year-old player to eat an entire pepperoni pizza against his Hebrew Israelite religious beliefs as punishment for missing a voluntary workout.
It has left one of Ohio’s most storied prep football programs working quickly to reset for its upcoming season and the Canton City School District in limbo as it awaits word on whether the player’s family will file a First Amendment lawsuit and whether criminal hazing charges will be filed against the coaches
The Rev. Monica A. Coleman, a theologian and professor of Africana studies at the University of Delaware, said some Hebrew Israelites do consider themselves to be Jewish.
“Black Hebrew Israelites consider themselves Jews; I also consider them to be a Black religion bearing many of the markers of African American spirituality,” she said.
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