Alabama School District Sacks Prayer at Football Games — and Parents Fight Back
The Freedom From Religion Foundation filed a complaint and school officials caved to their demands. This time, parents take matters in their own hands.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) is once again attacking prayer at school. This time, the atheist group filed a complaint against Blount County School District in Alabama for allowing students to pray before football games. The school district caved to FFRF’s demands, but parents are fighting back.
Blount County Banned Prayer
The FFRF argued that praying over the loud speakers was the same as a government endorsement of religion and a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. According to CBS42, Blount County Superintendent Rodney Green said they made the decision against prayer after talking with their attorneys.
“The complaint alleges that because we are doing that over the PA system, that it is inappropriate,” Green said. “That is something that we have had to go back and examine, and we have decided to go back and make a change in that practice.”
Parents Fighting Back — With Prayer
Parent Scott Williamson told ABC3340 that his first reaction was a human one: aggravation. “Pondering that and thinking about that, that is probably not the right reaction. My next reaction was actually that this is an awesome opportunity for a positive message to come out. Not a negative one.”
And it has been. Gregg Armstrong, parent and the county revenue commissioner, said he and other Christians decided to say the Lord’s Prayer during the secular moment of silence.
“We are not doing this by any way to be negative or anything like that,” he explained. “We are just doing this with love and doing what we feel like God has called us to do. I believe if you have 1,000 people in those bleachers saying the Lord’s Prayer vocally, not over a PA system, that is probably going to be a little bit more moving than just one person praying. There is strength in numbers, and certainly, everyone has the right to do what they want to, but we feel like we should take this stand.”
Local churches worked together to create 1,000 “We Believe” t-shirts that also sport the Lord’s Prayer on the back. They gave them away before the next game — but ran out.
AL.com reported that the crowd at the high school football game appeared to be wearing a “sea of green” “We Believe” shirts. “I’ve never been more proud (to be from Blount County)” Armstrong told AL.com in an interview after the game. Armstrong, who also serves as a music minister at Locust Fork Baptist Church, said hearing the crowd recite the Lord’s Prayer was a “moving moment.”
A young believer was interviewed just after the Lord’s Prayer was recited at a recent game:
In a Facebook post, Armstrong said, “Three of the most important things to the folks in our state? Faith, family and football. On Friday night, the folks in Locust Fork made a resounding rebuke to the Freedom From Religion Foundation and a clear message to America: No one is going to take their faith away.”
Armstrong also posted that he was proud of his community and county. “You can take the mic away but you can’t take Jesus from our hearts!! One of the most amazing weeks and night I have ever witnessed!! Truly AWESOME!! God is Good!”
A Facebook group in support of prayer before games in Blount County was created after the prayer ban. It’s called “We Will Not Be Silenced.” It has almost 7,500 members.
To paraphrase an old line, “Praise the Lord and pass the football … “