Football prayers -- district caves, fans pray anyway
After being threatened by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, the Desoto County School Board in Mississippi has decided to comply and ban prayers from football games and other school functions. Fans at a county football game on Friday, however, had different plans.
District Attorney Keith Treadway believes the law prohibits prayers over the public address (PA) system at sporting events, but Kelly Shackelford of the Liberty Institute says the Freedom From Religion Foundation is misinforming people.
"You have a right to speak a religious thought, even if it's on government property, even if it's on a PA system that's government -owned, even if it's on a public street, a public park, which are also government property," he contends.
Since making the decision, parents and local citizens have bombarded Superintendent Milton Kuykendall with complaints. Nonetheless, he fears a lawsuit could cost the district millions -- an approach that Shackelford says is wrong.
"Unfortunately, a lot of folks back down and think that censorship or not allowing religious expression is the way to go; it's not. There is almost always a way to allow for freedom, to allow for religious freedom and expression," the attorney assures. "Shutting it down is really the wrong approach, and it's a bad approach. What are we trying to teach kids, anyway?"
Despite this success, he points out that the Freedom From Religion Foundation has failed in its attempt to shut down the National Day of Prayer and, more recently, Governor Rick Perry's prayer event in Texas. But in DeSoto County, the school board has decided to enforce an existing policy that prohibits the use of the PA system to broadcast prayers before football games, and prayers were not heard over the system before the county's first football games last weekend.
The Lord's Prayer
The county school district may have decided to ban prayers at games, but parents and students did it anyway on Friday night at the DeSoto Central football game in Southaven.
WPTY in Memphis reports that following the national anthem -- in the absence of a prayer over the loudspeaker -- hundreds of people chose to recite the Lord's Prayer. "Their message, delivered quietly, was still powerful," says the ABC affiliate.
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