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FFRF ends Ohio school’s coach-sponsored prayer (October 1, 2021)

An Ohio public high school football coach has stopped praying with players after the FFRF intervened.

According to a concerned community member, the head coach of the Liberty-Benton High School football team was requiring players to lead prayers at team meals, leading students in the Lord’s Prayer before games and leading students in post-game prayer.

“The Supreme Court has continually struck down school-sponsored prayer in public schools,” FFRF Staff Attorney Christopher Line wrote to Liberty-Benton Local Schools Superintendent Mark Kowalski. “In each of these cases, the Supreme Court struck down school-sponsored prayer because it constitutes a government advancement and endorsement of religion, which violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.”

FFRF asked the district to take immediate action to stop any school-sponsored prayers from occurring within any district athletic programs — and that had the desired effect. Kowalski wrote back to FFRF that he will be meeting with various faculty and coaches to “discuss the sensitivities surrounding school employees being involved in prayer with students on school grounds and on school time.”