For the past decade, public prayers have been a regular part of the weekly football pre-game ritual at Arab High School in Alabama. That led the Freedom From Religion Foundation to send a notice (PDF) to the district’s superintendent:
Arab City Schools must take immediate action to ensure that prayers are not scheduled at any school-sponsored events. The prayers at the football games constitute an unconstitutional government endorsement of religion. A reasonable Arab City Schools student would certainly perceive the prayer “as stamped with [his/]her school’s approval.”… Moreover, prayer offered at the school sponsored events would lead anyone participating on the team or in attendance to believe that Arab City Schools is endorsing religion.
We ask that the school district commence and immediate investigation into the complaints alleged and take immediate action to stop any and all prayers occurring before any school-sponsored event. We ask that you inform us promptly in writing of the steps Arab City School takes to remedy this serious and flagrant violation of the First Amendment.
Guess what? It worked! Yesterday, the superintendent of the district said the illegal public prayers would come to a halt:
The Christians who are complaining about this in every comment thread on the topic that I’ve seen seem to think FFRF wanted them to stop praying altogether. That’s a lie. All Christians who attend or play in the football games are welcome to pray — privately. Or, if they want to be dicks about it, they can try and make an unofficial spectacle of the whole thing before a game starts. I’m sure Jesus would be proud. The only thing that has changed is that the public address announcer can no longer make a pre-game prayer a part of the official event.
John Mullins is reversing a policy he started a decade ago. Until this year, he allowed every home football game for Arab High School to start with a prayer…
“It’s clear, what we’ve been doing is not in compliance with the Constitution. We’re going to cease doing what we’ve been doing,” added Mullins.
All Arab High School football games will now begin with a moment of silence.
“We are not going to consume our energy, time, and financial resources fighting a legal battle that may, or may not be winnable at this time,” added Mullins.
It’s not winnable and Mullins knows it.
At least now everyone has the choice of whether or not they want to pray.
By the way, North Alabama news station WAFF has a poll you’ll want to respond to:
That’s not the right answer… Let’s fix that.