FFRF calls out constitutional violation at Ky. high school

FFRF is calling attention to a serious constitutional violation occurring at a Kentucky school.

A concerned district parent reported that a recent Ohio County High School football game began with a student reciting a sectarian prayer over the loudspeaker.

“God, we thank you for the opportunity to come together as a community to cheer on our favorite team. Most important, we thank you for your son Jesus Christ,” the prayer goes in a video obtained by FFRF. “God, despite what the school board says or whatever happens out there on the field, I pray that you will remain the center of it all. Grace us with good sportsmanship and keep everyone safe tonight throughout the game and as we leave afterwards. We praise you and we love you, and it’s in your name we pray. Amen.”

It is well-established law that public schools may not endorse prayer at school-sponsored events in any way, FFRF reminds Ohio County Schools. The district is both allotting time for these prayers to take place at the beginning of each football game and also allowing the prayer-giver access to the public address system needed to impose these prayers on all students and community members present.

“Public school events must be secular to protect the freedom of conscience of all students,” writes FFRF Robert G. Ingersoll Legal Fellow Colin McNamara in his letter to Superintendent Scott Lewis. “A reasonable district student would certainly perceive the prayers as ‘stamped with her school’s seal of approval.’”

FFRF is requesting that the district immediately cease the practice of scheduling prayer at any and all school-sponsored events and allowing the use of district equipment to project prayers to the public.

“The imposition of prayer on event attendees is unnecessarily exclusionary,” says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “Along with violating their individual liberties, it makes people feel like outsiders in their own communities.”

FFRF is a national nonprofit organization with more than 32,000 members and several chapters across the country, including hundreds of members and a chapter in Kentucky. FFRF’s purposes are to protect the constitutional principle of separation between church and state, and to educate the public on matters relating to nontheism.

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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