Florida Christian Schools Barred from Praying Over PA System Before Football Game

Prayer-Football-pdORLANDO, Fla. — Two Christian schools that faced off on Friday at the Citrus Bowl Stadium in Florida were barred from praying over the public address system because the event was held at a facility paid for by public tax money.

Officials with Cambridge Christian School of Tampa and University Christian School of Jacksonville had sent letters to the Florida High School Athletics Association (FHSAA) requesting permission to pray over the loudspeaker, but were denied.

“We’ve played 13 football games this year,” Tim Euler, principal of Cambridge Christian School, told Bay News9 . “We’ve prayed before every one of them.”

But the FHSAA said that it could not grant the schools permission to use the public address system to ask God’s blessing because the Citrus Bowl Stadium is public property.

“The facility is a public facility, predominantly paid for with public tax dollars, makes the facility ‘off limits’ under federal guidelines and precedent court cases,” Executive Director Dr. Roger Dearing explained to the outlet. “In Florida Statutes, the FHSAA (host and coordinator of the event) is legally a ‘State Actor,’ we cannot legally permit or grant permission for such an activity.”

FHSAA spokesperson Corey Sobers also told reporters that while the Christian schools could not use the loudspeaker, they were free to pray in other capacities.

“We did not allow them to have the prayer over the PA system, however, both schools are free to pray on their own, [and] the fans can pray,” he explained to WESH-TV. “They want to honor their faith. We’re very sympathetic of that, but we need to make sure from a legal standpoint that we’re not overstepping our bounds.”

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Euler said that he doesn’t agree with the Athletic Association’s reasoning, but did not fight the denial.

“The state legislature opens up every one of their sessions in prayer and that facility is paid for with tax dollars,” he stated. “If they can pray there, we can pray here, and I want them to be able to pray there and I want us to be able to pray here. So I think [the association’s]  reasoning is flawed at the core of it.”

Instead of using the public address system, both teams gathered together and recited the Lord’s Prayer out loud on the field, while fans prayed silently in the stands.

Public reaction has been mixed.

“Religion is for an appropriately designated place of worship, not public places. Not at public schools, places of employment, restaurants, malls, stadiums, train stations, etc.,” one commenter wrote.

“This country was founded on Christian principles by our forefathers and we should be able to pray without being discriminated against,” another stated. “These were two Christian schools. Separation of Church and State was for the State to stay out of the Church, not the other way around.”

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry called the ban “cockamamie.”


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  • The Last Trump

    So don’t forget Christians!
    No Christianity in government areas.
    No Christianity in public areas.

    Now get out there and enjoy your right to freedom of religious expression!
    (Er, I think the closet is still available. Better check to see if there are any lingering members of the gay community in there FIRST, though! Yikes!!)

    • acontraryview

      Spare me the false persecution complex. This applies to all religions, not just Christianity.

      • The Last Trump

        Wrong. As usual.
        On both counts.

        Anyone who isn’t a Christian website stalking troll knows that Christianity is the #1 persecuted religion in the world today.
        And many schools have been caught bending over backwards to promote and teach Islam. Look it up. (NO, I will not be providing you with anything. Nice try:)

        You really need to get out more, bud.

        • acontraryview

          “Wrong. As usual.On both counts.”

          So your saying that other religions ARE allowed in government areas, just not Christianity? And you’re further saying that other religions ARE allowed in public areas, just not Christianity? What is your basis for those believes?

          “And many schools have been caught bending over backwards to promote and teach Islam.” (NO, I will not be providing you with anything. Nice try:)”

          If you can’t back up your claims, then you can’t.

  • Josey

    your mistake was in asking for their permission 🙂 There is only One God and Father over us all and One Lord over all, Jesus Christ and He is the only one I’ll be getting permission from!

  • http://www.bing.com/ Martin Smit

    So I guess congress must have made a law prohibiting the free exercise of religion when government money is involved. I’m sure it’s constitutional because every Democrat president loads the supreme court with the youngest activists he can find.

    • gizmo23

      It sounds like a good compromise. No one was denied the eight to pray

  • jennylynn

    That’s ridiculous! It’s a Christians school. christians pray.

    • acontraryview

      They were not on their property.

      • The Last Trump

        ??
        Nowhere does it say anywhere in the Constitution that citizens can only pray “on their property”!? Please cite your very misguided and probable non-existent references for your ridiculously flawed beliefs.
        Thank you.

        • afchief

          Don’t waste your time!!! This person has about as much knowledge of a 3 year old when it comes to our Constitution.

          • acontraryview

            “Nowhere does it say anywhere in the Constitution that citizens can only pray “on their property”!?”

            Nor did I say that was the case. My point was that while they may have said prayers over a loudspeaker at games at their school, which they are certainly allowed to do as a private school, in this instance they are not at their school. They are at a public facility.

            The individuals there are certainly allowed to pray all they care to. Individuals praying, however, is not the same as using a public address system at a public facility, to express religious beliefs.

          • afchief

            Note to self; do not converse with mental disorders!!!

          • acontraryview

            I guess that means you will no longer to conversing with yourself.

          • acontraryview

            Interesting comment from someone who has stated that the Constitution contains laws; that the judiciary is not allowed to rule on the Constitutionality of laws; that Congress is the only legislative body that is allowed to create law; that any law put into place by a city, county, or state, requires Congressional approval; that any law that is ruled unconstitutional by the judiciary requires that the Constitution be amended. All of which are not true and show a rather significant misunderstanding of our Constitution, legislative processes, and the role of the judiciary.

          • afchief

            Note to self; do not converse with mental disorders!!!

          • acontraryview

            How is it a “mental disorder” to state facts about our Constitutional, legislative process, and judicial system?

  • acontraryview

    ““This country was founded on Christian principles by our forefathers”

    No, the country was not founded on Christian principals. It was founded on freedom, liberty, and equality. All of which are contrary to Christian principals, as well as the principals of any other religion which, by their nature, require fealty to their beliefs and living in accordance with those beliefs.

    “and we should be able to pray without being discriminated against,”

    They aren’t being discriminated against. If other religions where allowed to use the PA system, but they were not, then it would be discrimination. That is not the case. No prayers from any religious belief are allowed at the stadium. There is no discrimination.

    • The Last Trump

      Wow. You just can’t seem to get ANYTHING right.
      You might want to read every American history book in any library.
      That’s quite the bias you have there.
      Perhaps you should change your name from “acontraryview” to “anaversiontofacts.”

      • afchief

        This person is quite deceived. When you have a reprobate mind (homosexuality) there is NO truth in you. Do not waste your time.

    • jmichael39

      “No, the country was not founded on Christian principals.” – might want to take a deeper look at her historical documents. Even the fundamental document of our founding invokes reference to a monotheistic ‘Creator’. But if you’re too lazy to look up the facts for yourself, let me know, I’ll post you some.

      “It was founded on freedom, liberty, and equality. All of which are contrary to Christian principals,” – you obviously are not too well versed in Christian theology, are you. Would you like me to show you where the doctrines of Christianity are most assuredly based upon “freedom, liberty and equality”. Again, let me know if you need some help finding the basic doctrines of Scripture

      “require fealty to their beliefs and living in accordance with those beliefs.” – you could make the same claim again such humanistic dogmas as ‘climate change’ and ‘evolution’. It’s fundamentally irrelevant if those beliefs are true. You’d have to actually refute the truth of each doctrine individually to even begin to substantiate your assertion.

      “They aren’t being discriminated against.” – sure they are…as are all non-humanist religions.

      “No prayers from any religious belief are allowed at the stadium.” – actually, that’s not the way the article reads. They were, indeed, allowed to pray, just not use the PA system. So, technically, the school district permitted them to use public property, the stadium, to pray, just not the PA system. Shouldn’t you be screaming about them being allow to pray at all on public property? Seems to me this has nothing to do with whether the schools allow them to use public property in the expression of their religion, but rather just some public property. Interesting to find out where they draw the line. Is it in the decibels of the prayer or some thing else?

      • acontraryview

        “might want to take a deeper look at our historical documents.”

        You might want to take a look at our Constitution. The protections it provides directly conflict with 7 of the 10 Biblical Commandments. Given that fact, please explain to me how our country is founded on “Christian principles”.

        “Even the fundamental document of our founding invokes reference to a monotheistic ‘Creator’.”

        By definition, “monotheistic” does not refer to any particular religion.

        “Would you like me to show you where the doctrines of Christianity are most assuredly based upon “freedom, liberty and equality”.”

        Oh yes, please do. Is it the part where it says you are not allowed to have any God other than the Christian god? Is it the part where it is says that you are not allowed to take the Lord’s name in vain? Is it the part where it says you should not associate with unbelievers? Is it the part where it says you should not have sexual relations outside of marriage? I’m anxiously awaiting your insights into how Christian principles are consistent with freedom, liberty, and equality.

        “you could make the same claim again such humanistic dogmas as ‘climate change’ and ‘evolution’.”

        Where, in the theories regarding climate change or evolution, is there a requirement that people have a fealty to those beliefs and to live their lives according to those theories?

        “”sure they are”

        In order for that to be true, the stadium would need to be allowed other religious beliefs to be touted over the loudspeaker, but not Christian beliefs. That is not the case. So, no, they are not.

        “actually, that’s not the way the article reads. They were, indeed, allowed to pray, just not use the PA system.”

        Correct. I thought that my comment would be clear that it referenced the use of the PA system. Of course people are allowed to pray, as they should be.

        “So, technically, the school district permitted them to use public property, the stadium, to pray, just not the PA system.”

        There is no “school district” involved. The Citrus Bowl is owned by the City of Orlando. And, yes, there was no attempt to stop people from praying – just a denial of using the stadium’s public address system.

        “Shouldn’t you be screaming about them being allow to pray at all on public property?”

        Goodness no. People are allowed to pray, within certain boundaries, wherever they care to. I fully support that right.