School will stop illegal 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. The Foundation hasn't yet received a formal response to its Oct. 12 letter to Scales about prayers at football games and at graduation at Soddy-Daisy High School. Soddy-Daisy is a Chattanooga suburb (named for William Sodder, who ran a trading post, and for Daisy Parks, the daughter of a coal company manager).

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." 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 "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

Send this to a friend