Constitution triumphs in Florida prayer judgment

1ccsshieldA recent judicial ruling in a Florida prayer case is a resounding victory for the separation of state and church.

“A federal judge has sided with the Florida High School Athletic Association in a dispute about whether a Christian school should have been allowed to offer a prayer over a stadium loudspeaker before a football championship game in Orlando,” the Orlando Sentinel reports

The Freedom From Religion Foundation filed an amicus brief in the case.

“U.S. District Judge Charlene Edwards Honeywell on Wednesday rejected arguments by Tampa’s Cambridge Christian School that the association, which governs high-school sports in the state, had violated free-speech and other constitutional rights by not allowing a prayer over the loudspeaker in 2015 at Camping World Stadium,” the paper adds.

U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Amanda Arnold Sansone had issued a recommendation in February to dismiss the case. The First Liberty Institute, a Christian advocacy group, filed the suit in September, arguing that the association was mandated to allow Cambridge Christian to deliver a Christian prayer over the public address system at state championship events in which the school participates. 

FFRF and its chapter, the Central Florida Freethought Community, submitted an amicus brief arguing that the school did not have a First Amendment right to commandeer the public address system. “Cambridge Christian wants to force a state agency to promote its Christian message through a mechanism limited to conveying government speech,” FFRF stated in its brief. 

Honeywell upheld Sansone’s recommendation. It’s “clear that if the prayer was offered by the public-address announcer, this would be viewed as an endorsement by the state, which would be impermissible,” she stated in the ruling.

FFRF is delighted at seeing its perspective vindicated.

“It’s a triumph for the Constitution and for the rights of public school students to be free from imposed prayer at school events,” says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “The judge’s ruling cuts to the heart of the issue: The government cannot directly or indirectly facilitate prayer.”

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a nationwide nonprofit organization, with more than 28,000 nonreligious members and chapters nationwide, including 1,400-plus in Florida and a chapter, the Central Florida Freethought Community.

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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