Organization sends complaint letter on loudspeaker prayer at Hewitt-Trussville games
From The Trussville Tribune staff reports
TRUSSVILLE – The Freedom From Religion Foundation has sent a letter of complaint to Trussville City Schools Superintendent Dr. Pattie Neill saying there has been a constitutional violation regarding prayer being broadcast over the loudspeaker before football games at Hewitt-Trussville.
The letter states, “It is our understanding that prayer is broadcast over the loudspeaker before Hewitt-Trussville High School football games. A recent game included a prayer that stated, ‘Father, today we play as two separate teams, but we live as one body of Christ, as your hands and feet. And through it all we play…ultimately to further your kingdom.’ It ended, ‘In Jesus’ mighty name we all pray, Amen.’
“It is illegal for a public school to sponsor religious messages at school athletic events. The Supreme Court has continually struck down school-sponsored prayer in public schools.”
The letter goes on to state, “Moreover, the Supreme Court has specifically struck down invocations given over the loudspeaker at public school athletic events, even when student led.”
The letter cites multiple Supreme Court cases, including Santa Fe Indep. Sch. Dist. V. Doe, 530 U.S. 290, 320 (2000), which it states has to do with “striking down a school policy that authorized students to vote on whether to have prayer at high school football games.”
“The Court reasoned that because the football game was a school-sponsored event, hosting prayer was a constitutional violation,” Line says in the letter. “Even if student-led, the Court said prayers at a ‘regularly-scheduled school-sponsored function conducted on school property’ would lead an objective observer to perceive it as state endorsement of religion.”
Line says in the letter that prayers at District football games are “inappropriate” and “unconstitutional,” and the district must take “immediate action to end the practice of broadcasting prayer over the loudspeaker of football games.”
Line said the FFRF is a national nonprofit organization whose purposes are to “protect the constitutional principle of separation between state and church, and to educate the public on matters relating to nontheism.”
He said the organization was contacted by a concerned parent in the district on the matter.
Dr. Neill was unavailable for comment at the time of the story.