The pastor of a Georgia church involved in a mass baptism before a high school football practice said Thursday the school had nothing to do with the ritual, except that it took place on a school football field.

The Rev. Kevin Williams, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Villa Rica, said the baptism of 18 students and a coach was voluntary.

The Aug. 17 baptisms drew criticism from a religious-freedom group after the church posted on the Internet video of the players being dunked into a small tub of water.

The Wisconsin-based Freedom from Religion Foundation sent a letter to Carroll County school officials Tuesday asking the district to investigate.

___

Information from: WXIA-TV, http://www.11alive.com/