Fla. school threatens legal action over prayer at football game

January 27, 2016 / Athletic AdministrationFootball
The Texas-based Liberty Institute is threatening to file a lawsuit on behalf of a Florida school that was barred from praying over the loudspeaker at last month’s football state title game.

Football3According to WFLA in Tampa, Cambridge Christian is asking for an apology from the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA). The Liberty Institute’s legal team has given the athletic association 30 days to respond before it’s “prepared to take the matter to federal court.”

From WFLA:

“That’s a violation of the law,” said Jermey Dys, who is representing Cambridge Christian. Dys is Senior Counsel for the Liberty Institute, a non-profit legal group. The non-profit focuses on instances when it believes religious liberty has been violated.

“It’s wrong for the government to censor the private speech of private individuals, including when someone wants to pray in public,” Dys said.

“If the government can censor your speech at the state football championship, what speech is going to be safe?  So, they can apologize now or to a judge,” Dys maintains.

The Liberty Institute is ignoring two major points. First, the players were not denied their right to pray. They were only prevented from doing so over the loudspeaker. That leads us to the second point, which is that the decision was not the FHSAA’s to make. It was only following a ruling handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2000 that prayer at games is a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. As a result, schools in many states allow student-athletes to pray privately, but announcements over the public address system are prohibited.

It’s a predicament for schools. Allow prayer, and organizations like the American Humanist Association threaten lawsuits. Prevent it, and the Liberty Institute threatens legal action of its own.

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