Students and parents recited the Lord's Prayer out loud prior to a football game in Alabama in protest of a ban on student-led prayers over the public address system.
Following the national anthem and coin toss before the football game between Central-Phenix City and Smiths Station on Friday, the fans of both teams stood together in prayer in reaction to a recent announcement from the school district that students will no longer be able to pray publicly over loudspeakers before kickoff.
"That was emotional," Jennie Sanders, wife of the Smiths Station defensive line coach, said after the prayer. "The kids want to pray. Somebody took that away from them, which is a sad situation," she added.
Lee County Schools made the decision to end school-sponsored prayer during games after receiving a complaint letter from the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), which advised the district about its concerns about the separation of church and state.
"It is illegal for a public school to sponsor religious messages at school athletic events. The Supreme Court has continually struck down school-sponsored prayer in public schools," the letter read, according to Fox 5.
The group claimed that it received complaints from a parent regarding a prayer that a student delivered prior to a game on Aug. 25.
In a statement released on Wednesday, Superintendent James McCoy said that he tried to find a way for students to continue leading the prayers, but his efforts were not successful.
"The school system was facing litigation that we felt as though would not rule in our favor, if we continued with prayer over our public address system," he said in a statement.
William Sanderson, the attorney for Lee County Schools, said he advised the district to comply with the request to end prayers initiated by all school employees, and to end the "use of state resources in a religious context."
Attorneys for both sides reportedly agreed that student or parent-led prayers are appropriate as long as no school resources are used. However, a spokesperson for FFRF contended that there should be no extra accommodations for anyone organizing a "grassroots" effort to pray, such as modifying the start time of a game.
Following the announcement, a local businessman named Mike Green expressed plans to buy advertisement space on the high school football stadium's scoreboard and put the Lord's Prayer on the sign. As of Sept. 26, the GoFundMe campaign to help fund the advertisement has raised $4,050 towards the $5,000 goal.
However, a note on the crowdfunding page indicated that Green will not be allowed to place an advertisement with a religious message within the stadium. The businessman said that he has decided that the funds collected through the crowdfunding account should go to the Smiths Station Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
- Judge denies restraining order against California baker who refused to make same-sex wedding cake
- Doughnut shop draws backlash from LGBT activists over partnership with Salvation Army
- Ohio legislature approves measure banning abortions on babies diagnosed with Down syndrome
- Famed theologian RC Sproul dies after being hospitalized due to breathing difficulties
A Protestant pastor in Indonesia is facing a blasphemy charge over his remarks about the Quran during his conversation with a taxi driver.
British government refuses to answer whether proclaiming Christianity can be considered a hate crime
A representative of the British government in the House of Lords has refused to say whether proclaiming the Christian faith could be considered a hate crime.
Apart from attacks from Fulani herdsmen and Islamic extremist group Boko Haram, Christians in Nigeria are also facing increasing threats and attacks from occult groups that are targeting churches at night.
A young boy who was staying at the Smyllum Park orphanage in the 1960s was beaten "black and blue" after catching two nuns in an embrace at a boiler room, a child abuse inquiry has heard.
Sudanese court upholds eviction of pastors as government steps up campaign to take over church properties
A Sudanese court has turned down an appeal of two pastors who were evicted from their church-owned homes in August as part of what is believed to be a government campaign to take over church property.
Pro-life leaders accuse Pope Francis of undermining Church teachings on contraception, sexual morality
Pro-life leaders from across the world have accused Pope Francis and other Church leaders of failing to uphold Catholic teachings on sexual morality, contraception, sex education, marriage, and other life and family issues.
A Christian teacher in the U.K. is suing a school after he was suspended for referring to a transgender pupil, who self-identifies as male, as a girl.
A missionary has recounted how a persecuted Christian family in Myanmar became bold witnesses for Christ after they forgave a mob who tried to kill them for their faith.
Amnesty International Ireland is being threatened with criminal charges after it refused to return an illegal donation from U.S. billionaire George Soros to fund its pro-abortion campaign.
A new documentary from the History Channel has claimed that Jesus Christ may not have been born in a stable of an inn but a residential house owned by Joseph's relative in Bethlehem.
Members of the British parliament are asking the government to consider refusing entry to U.S. evangelist Franklin Graham, who is accused of making inflammatory comments against Islam and the LGBT community.