University of Tennessee: We’re Keeping Our Pre-Game Prayers

About a week ago, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga said they would stop their practice of public Christian prayers before home football games.

But what about UTC’s sibling school, the University of Tennessee, Knoxville? That’s the school with the major football program, the school where Peyton Manning played, the school where the exact same type of prayer was taking place. Would they stop, too?

The Freedom From Religion Foundation sent them a letter of complaint late last week, focusing on the problem with asking the crowd to stand for a clergy-led prayer that “routinely invoke[s] Jesus Christ.”

Tonight, we get the first response from the university: They’re keeping the prayer:

UT says it doesn’t believe it’s time-honored ritual of praying before each football home game violates the constitution.

Tuesday, UT said it is drafting a full response to the foundation, but officials said they believe their tradition follows court guidelines.

This isn’t a battle the school will win. History isn’t on their side. They’ll kick and scream about this. They’ll whine about it. Their strategies will eventually backfire. And the other side will ultimately come out on top.

So it’s a lot like UT’s football team. (Zing!)

But if this is a fight UT wants, they’ll get it. It’ll pit those of us who support church/state separation against a community built around college football and church. It’s a distraction that doesn’t need to happen since all the people attending the games have every right to pray before the games… but judging from the comments on several news websites, you’d never know that.

Though there is a poll on the Knoxville News Sentinel‘s website you may want to crash:

(As I write this, “No” is at 88%… I’m sure a few “Yes” votes would change that quickly.)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.