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North Dakota passes bill allowing student-led prayer at games

April 26, 2017 / Athletic AdministrationCoaching
The North Dakota legislature has passed a bill that allows student-athletes to lead their teams in prayer at the state’s public and private schools.

Prayer at high school games has become hot-button issue in recent years, especially in states like North Dakota, Florida, Oklahoma and Georgia. Coach-led prayer is discouraged, and state associations prevent schools from praying over stadium loudspeakers. A handful of incidents have led to lawsuits, but athletic associations argue they’re only following a Supreme Court ruling in 2000 that said student-led prayer is a violation of the Establishment Clause in the First Amendment.

In North Dakota, one lawmaker said the bill was in response to a prayer not being permitted during a 2015 football game between two parochial schools. 

From The Associated Press:

The North Dakota legislation doesn’t address broadcasting a prayer, and North Dakota High School Activities Association spokesman Brian Bubach said he doesn’t believe the group’s stance will change.

“Prayer has been happening in North Dakota for years prior to teams taking the court, the field or after the game — there is not an issue with that,” Bubach said. “But when it comes over the loudspeaker, it becomes almost a forced assembly.”

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