by Billie Hollowell
High school football games and prayer simply don’t mix — at least that’s what one prominent atheist group is saying.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation is taking Alabama’s Lauderdale County school district to task after accusing officials of allowing prayers during Brooks High School football games.
The prayers, which invoke Jesus’ name (obviously a common element among Christians), are being called a First Amendment violation. At particular issue is the fact that they are said over a loudspeaker, making them audible to anyone attending the games.
According to the Times Daily newspaper, the complaint stems from a single source in the community — a man named Jeremy Green.
In an e-mail to the newspaper, Green, who is a member of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Humanists of the Shoals, and American Atheists, said that he is taking a stand in support of the “separation of church and state” and that he was seeking to protect the rights of those who do not embrace religion. In the complaint, he wrote:
“It is illegal for any public school to organize, sponsor or lead prayer at public athletic events. The Supreme Court of the United States of America has continually made rulings which strike down this practice as illegal.
Student or faculty-led prayer at high school athletic events could be confusing for impressionable children who are raised in nonreligious or non-Christian homes and see the faculty member or student who is leading the prayer as a school sponsored authority figure.”