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School Prayer During High School Football Games

December 7th, 2017


School employees will no longer be able to participate in school prayer at football games and other school-sponsored activities.

School employees will no longer be able to participate in school prayer at football games and other school-sponsored activities.

The Freedom from Religion Foundation recently resolved an issue with Coweta County School System about end-of-game school prayer by football players. The ultimate decision reached between these two groups is that school employees are prohibited from participating in these prayers.

The purpose of the Freedom from Religion Foundation is to ensure that proper distance remains between church and state. The Foundation has brought much attention to this case, which raises some interesting points regarding prayer during sporting events and other types of public school activities. The case is also noteworthy due to the conclusion that school employees should be prohibited from school prayer.

The Letter Sent by the Freedom Religion Foundation

The letter by the Freedom From Religion Foundation claimed that the team’s coach was acting unconstitutionally by endorsing religion within a school because the coach was leading team prayer. To make this argument, the Foundation from Religion Foundation argued that at the time he had engaged in the group prayer, the coach was acting in his role as coach of the football team. At the end of the letter, the Foundation requested that the coach be prohibited from advocating for students or organizing team prayer.

The school proceeded to distribute the Foundation’s memo to principals throughout the area. Additionally, the coach met with several public schools to discuss his religious activity. The school event sent a statement to the Atlanta Constitution claiming that the coach’s actions were done as an act of support. In response to these actions, the Foundation stopped voicing its complaint.

Why Public Prayer in Schools

Even though there is established case law in the area, there is long established law prohibiting school prayer in public schools.

In 1962, the United States Supreme Court issued an opinion against school sponsored prayer in Engel v. Vitale. The only type of prayer that is permitted in public schools must be done privately, not disrupt other students, and must not pressure other students to join in the prayer. More specifically, the Supreme Court held that many kinds of school sponsored prayer are in direct violation of the United State Constitution’s First Amendment. By using a school official to lead prayer, many court cases have subsequently found that schools can be found to be effectively sponsoring prayer.

Chronicling The Constant Struggle Between Church and State

This case is an excellent example of why public school representatives should be prohibited from leading prayer at any type of school based event. This is just one of several recent cases about the clash between church and state in the Universal Life Church’s blog. Not only does the Universal Life Church aim to describe the various developments in this area of law each month, our blog also aims to elucidate the most visible stories in the news about this issue. By continuing to read our blog, you can remain up to date with the most recent types of developments between church and state.

(image courtesy of joao-victor-xavier)

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