reedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) works as an umbrella for those who are free from religion and are committed to the cherished principle of separation of state and church. That’s why they reacted on an overabundance of prayers in a Kansas school district. According to them, It makes no difference how many people want prayer or wouldn't be offended by prayer at school events, because "fundamental rights may not be submitted to vote; they depend on the outcome of no elections."
A concerned parent informed FFRF that Liberal Unified School District 480 in Liberal, Kan., has regularly incorporated prayers into several school events. This includes:
- Prayers before girls’ soccer games led by a coach-designated student.
- Prayers after boys’ soccer games done in a similar fashion as the girls’ soccer games.
- Prayers before kickoff at home football games given over the loudspeaker.
- Reportedly, students as well as Christian clergymen have led the prayers.
- An opening prayer regularly scheduled during school board meetings. According to the board’s published minutes for this school year, either a board member or local Christian clergymen gives the opening prayer.
- A designated student reciting a prayer at commencement ceremonies.
We can see that this school district is violating The First Amendment in so many ways because all of the above is unconstitutional. This can be confirmed by a number of court decisions in similar cases. For instance, the Supreme Court has explicitly disallowed invocations at public school athletic events, even when student-led. Additionally, public school coaches must refrain not only from leading prayers themselves, but also from participating in student prayers, since such participation is unconstitutional because it implies endorsement.
“It is unlawful for any school-sponsored event, including graduations and athletic games, to include prayer,” FFRF Staff Attorney Andrew Seidel wrote to Superintendent Renae Hickert. “The Supreme Court has continually struck down formal and school-led prayer in public schools. Even when student-initiated, the Supreme Court has found prayers taking place at school-sponsored events unconstitutional.”
At the end of the letter, FFRF asked Ms Renae Hickert to discontinue prayer at all future school-sponsored activities, including athletic events, commencement ceremonies, and school board meetings. Time will tell whether this warning will solve the problem.
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