For years now, the football team at Lowndes High School in Georgia has opened its games with a student-led prayer, but after a complaint from an atheist group, those prayers are ending and the community is furious.
But they all miss a critical point: Even the Freedom From Religion Foundation doesn’t have a legal issue with student-led prayers. If the athletes and fans choose to pray before a game, that’s their right. But at Lowndes, the students use the loudspeaker system to preach Christianity.
Here’s an example of it from 2017:
That’s why FFRF had a problem with it, as attorney Chris Line pointed out when he sent the district a letter on behalf of a parent who lives in the community.
“I couldn’t go to the football game and say, ‘hey, there is no God,’ to everybody at the game, use the school’s microphone for that. In the same way that a Christian can not come up and deliver a Christian prayer for everyone when the crowd probably has Jewish people, Muslims, obviously atheists, and tons of other minority religions,” said Chris Line, Freedom From Religion Foundation Attorney.
It’s not just FFRF either. The Supreme Court ruled on this very issue in 2000 in Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe and said the loudspeaker prayers were illegal.
And yet the response has included district officials blaming FFRF for the change, and locals whining because they’re too ignorant to understand the problem.
Prayer has “always been done, and we live in an area where God is put above a lot of other things,” [senior Taylor] Slocumb said. “To have it taken away from us, it’s something I wanted to fight for.”
“It’s time for Christians to stand up for what is right and to stand up for God,” [parent Joe] Copeland said. “When you quit talking to God, it’s going to go bad.”
“South Georgia is in the middle of the Bible Belt,” said Darrell Presley, the Viking Touchdown Club President. “Religion is a very strong thing in this part of the country and it’s one of the things that you do.”
Presley says if the prayer does not get added back to the program, fans will say their own from the crowd.
I’m no attorney, but Presley’s not very smart, so I’ll go ahead and say it with confidence: No one cares if the fans say their own prayers. No one is challenging their right to pray. Hell, they can pray to their hearts’ desires. Christian fans are free to turn the games into makeshift church services, and tell Jews they’re going to Hell unless they repent, and whatever else they want.
But they can’t use the school’s equipment to amplify their message. This isn’t that complicated.
Maybe if the fans spent more time in school and less time praying, they would realize that.
(Thanks to Brian for the link)