After complaints arose over a pre-game prayer spoken over the loudspeaker at an Alabama high school's sporting event, students are speaking out.
Students at Opelika High School in Opelika, Alabama, are facing the possibility of a prayerless education after backlash concerning public prayer.
The Freedom From Religious Foundation is a group that exists "to promote the constitutional principle of separation of state and church, and to educate the public on matters relating to nontheism," according to their website. They say parents were concerned following the incident at an Opelika football game earlier in the year. In a letter of complaint, the group says that the public faith expression created feelings of alienation which made parents want to "move their children out of the district," reports Faithwire.
The group, which stated broadly that the US Supreme Court has "struck down invocations given over the loudspeaker at public school athletic events, even when student-led," hopes to prevent future prayer incidents from occurring at the school.
As a means of addressing these concerns, administrators at the high school were told to have a moment of silence prior to sporting events rather than a prayer. This, says OCS Superintendent Mark Neighbors, is a way for the school to abide by American laws.
"Our students are allowed to pray, but our coaches are not allowed to participate," Neighbors said.
Rather than abide by the new procedure, students at Opelika decided to recite the Lord's Prayer out loud in protest.
One student, Phoebe Darcey, stated that if prayer was to be taken away, students would "go about it a different way."
Local Pastor Steve Bass from Trinity United Methodist Church encouraged the student's response, saying prayer in the setting of an athletic event was meant to bless athletes before a competition.
"It was nothing offensive," said the pastor.
Evangelist Franklin Graham added his voice to the conversation, encouraging students at the school: "Stand up for what you believe in!"
A similar situation also recently occurred in Georgia, when students were not allowed to pray before a football game due to complaints by an atheist group.