Cleveland School Fighting for Pre-Game Prayer

Cleveland, TN–Atheists are taking on a Tennessee school district over pre-football prayer practices that they say violate the U.S. Constitution. But students responded in a big way, organizing a prayer event aimed at sending a powerful message about the power of invoking God.

An October invocation that reportedly unfolded at Bradley Central High School in Cleveland, Tennessee, has since sparked a complaint from an unnamed staff member who is employed by the district, the local ABC affiliate WTVC-TV reported.

That complaint, sent through the Freedom From Religion Foundation, an atheist activist group, argues that the prayer that was said by a student over the loudspeaker is illegal.

A letter from the FFRF notes that the organization has worked with Bradley County Schools “to resolve constitutional issues in the past” and adds that the atheist group is hopeful that this purported infraction will also be fixable.

The text went on to take issue with the “prayers at district football games” that are said over the loudspeaker, calling them unconstitutional, and urging the district to stop using its equipment for prayer at school-sponsored events.

But some students and parents are responding to the FFRF complaint, with 2017 graduate Cade Baker and current students organizing a prayer walk and service, arguing that students should retain the right to pray on school property.

“I feel like students on school property should have freedom of speech,” Baker said. “We’re not angry, we’re not protesting. We just wanted to come together as believers and support one another and love each other during this time.”

So, on Sunday, adults and students alike came together to join hands and pray.
Student CJ Beck, who helped organize the event, told WTVC that she plays softball and that praying before every game motivates her and has helped her ready herself.

“We pray pretty much before every game in every sport,” she told the outlet.

The unnamed complainant said that he or she simply wants the district to follow the law and to stop allowing public prayers over the loudspeaker at official school events.
“The school district should not be immune from the law. My ultimate goal in filing the complaints is very simple: I want the school district to follow the law,” the person told WDEF-TV. “The supreme court decision banning prayer over the PA system at football games was decided 18 years ago.”


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