Tennessee school district will stop loudspeaker prayers

A Tennessee school district has agreed to stop broadcasting prayers over loudspeakers at school athletic events after a letter of complaint from the Freedom From Religion Foundation. Hamilton County Schools Superintendent Jim Scales told principals that the prayers are unconstitutional, according to news stories. Rebecca Markert, FFRF staff attorney, noted in the letter written on behalf of a local complainant that courts “have struck down prayer in public schools because it constitutes government endorsement of religion, which violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.” Chattanoogan.com reported Oct. 20 that Scales e-mailed school principals that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that it’s unconstitutional to pray over a loudspeaker at a school-sponsored athletic event. “It is important to comply with this ruling.” John Maynard, Soddy-Daisy principal, told Chattanoogan.com: “I will comply with the superintendent’s directive.” The Chattanooga Times Free Press reported that Maynard said because the superintendent told him to stop the prayers, “I will follow his orders.” Annie Laurie Gaylor, FFRF co-president, said, “It’s settled law by the Supreme Court that there may not be prayer in public schools — at graduation, in classrooms or during sports events. We’re pleased that this appears to be resolved, but we will monitor the situation.”

Freedom From Religion Foundation