Tenn. High school football team is going to pray anyway
A group of high school football players in Tennessee have decided that they will pray anyway–no matter what the Freedom From Religious Foundation wants.
The football team of Soddy Daisy high school in Chattanooga, Tennessee plans to continue to pray before the start of the football game, even if the prayer before kick-off that is usually heard over the loudspeaker is no longer allowed, WTVC News said.
The prayer became a point of contention when the Freedom From Religion Foundation complained about the Christian prayers that were being broadcast before football games, the UPI reported.
The foundation claimed that they were acting on a request from students from Soddy-Daisy High School when they sent the letter of complaint to Hamilton County School Superintendent Jim Scales, according to the UPI.
As a result, Scales announced that prayer would no longer be accommodated, whether by district employees or over the loudspeakers. The football team learned the news about thir longtime prayer tradition while they were at practice, WTVC News reported.
In the letter, the foundation wrote that the prayers before football games and during graduations pose a “serious and flagrant violation of the First Amendment.” Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the organization, said prayer is “perfectly ridiculous,” and the students are a “captive audience,” UPI reported.
Gaylor said, “This is the harm of religion in government, that the people who are religious believe they are the true citizens and the other people have no rights. It’s very dangerous, someone will always be on the outs,” according to UPI.
Gaylor said the Supreme Court had already determined in many cases that it is unconstitutional to pray before football games. “When there is a violation like a prayer at a school, they’re really vulnerable. It’s a violation of their civil rights,” Fox News reported.
Of the new rule, senior offensive lineman Tyler Rinehart told WTVC News, “Honestly, I’m mad about it.” Senior receiver Daniel Crawley said the team pray together on an almost daily basis in the locker room before games and after every practice.
Crawley told WTVC News that the team has even been going to church together at Abba’s House in Hixson on Wednesday nights. He said, “We believe that the way that we pray actually helps people.”
Rhonda Thurman, who is with the county board of education said those who don’t like the prayer have the freedom to cover their ears, adding, “Everybody is offended by something,” according to UPI
Fox News cited an opposing view by Jim Rogers who viewed public prayer as a right of free speech adding, “Our country was founded on the principle of religious suffrage and the freedom to express that religion.”
Although their coaches will not be allowed to pray with them, the football team of Soddy Daisy high plans to exercise their right to free speech by continuing to pray together, and they don’t think anyone will be dangerously left out if they do.
Rinehart said to WTVC News, “Whether you’re a starter or a fourth or fifth string that’s never gotten in, everybody’s family–no matter what.”