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FFRF: Some Jefferson County Schools ending prayer over PA system at high school football games

Published: Apr. 6, 2022 at 6:40 AM CDT
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JEFFERSON COUNTY, Ala. (WBRC) -You probably won’t hear prayers over loudspeakers during some high school football games this Fall in Jefferson County. This after the Freedom From Religion Foundation received complaints.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation says it received complaints last fall about the prayer over the PA system before local high school football games. That organization then sent a letter to Jefferson County schools saying prayers before the games including Gardendale High School and Pinson Valley are inappropriate and unconstitutional. The FFRF says the Supreme Court has struck down school-sponsored prayer in public schools.

The foundation did receive word from the school district’s attorney saying that after the superintendent met with principals, the administration will not allow prayer at school-sponsored events including football games.

A staff attorney for the FFRF says its purpose it to protect the separation of church and state.

“There are people affected by this. I think some people treat it as, oh they just don’t want to hear prayer. They don’t like that Christians exist. It has nothing to do with that. It truly is just that public schools are a neutral place. They should be neutral with regard to religion,” Chris Line with the Freedom From Religion Foundation said.

We received this statement in response to the complaints from Jefferson County Schools:

“A recent press release featured the Jefferson County Board’s response to a complaint about opening football games with a public prayer at two of its high schools. The complaint was administratively resolved at the school level, and not as a result of formal Board action or any newly adopted Board policy. That resolution was based on the Board’s legal obligations that have been established by binding court precedent. However, the Board’s adherence to those rulings should not be understood as a rejection of students’ religious rights and liberties in the school setting. The Jefferson County Board of Education remains firmly committed to respecting and protecting those rights and liberties in every way permitted by the Constitution and laws of the United States.”- Dr. Walter B. Gonsoulin Jr., Superintendent

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