Humanists Still Upset Over ‘Christian Predominance’ After School District Bars Staff Prayers

Prayer Football pdGAINESVILLE, Ga. — A nationally-recognized humanist organization is still expressing opposition to what it calls ‘a culture of Christian predominance’ after the superintendent of a Georgia school district responded to a controversy over alleged coach-led prayers at athletic events by barring coaches from continuing the practice.

As previously reported, the American Humanist Association (AHA) sent a letter earlier this month to the superintendent of Hall County Schools, the principal of Chestatee High School and the chairman of the Board of Education after it received any complaint from a local resident about practices at the school.

According to the letter, written by AHA attorney Monica Miller, coaches at Chestatee High School have allegedly been citing Bible verses on team documents and either leading or joining with the team in prayer.

“We have received reports that CHS coaches have joined players in prayer while standing in a circle, hands interlocked. At times, the head coach has led the prayers, which is an egregious violation of the Establishment Clause,” the correspondence reads. “Further violating the Constitution, a citation to Galatians 6:9 was placed at the bottom of workout log sheets given to players, and the citation and text of Proverbs 27:17 was written in giant letters on a banner used for a football team pregame entrance.”

The organization threatened a possible lawsuit if the practices are not discontinued.

This past week, Hall County Superintendent Will Schofield sent an email to staff members within the school system advising that while students may freely join together in prayer, it is “off-limits for teachers and coaches to lead students in such prayers.

“The Hall County School District wholeheartedly defends the almost unlimited rights of students to exercise their religious beliefs,” he wrote. “As long as activities do not infringe upon or disrespect the religious beliefs of others, or disrupt classroom instruction or school routines, students have the right to pray, read religious materials, talk to their classmates about their beliefs, and … form clubs or associations with students who share similar interests.”

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“[But] by law, and under current legal interpretation by the courts, public school employees on the job do not enjoy the same level of religious freedom at school as do our students, yet their religious rights do not evaporate at the schoolhouse gate,” Schofield continued. “Teachers, coaches, administrators, and other school employees may live out their faith in a variety of ways; however, they must not be leading students in prayer during school or school-sponsored activities, nor may they require or pressure students to participate in religious activities.”

But David Noise, attorney for AHA, said that Schofield’s email did not go far enough and allows Christianity to be predominant in the district over other religions–or no religion at all.

“It is not encouraging that Schofield referred to students’ religious freedom while in school as almost unlimited, as that sends a signal to the community that a culture of Christian predominance can continue,” he wrote. “Based on the extensive feedback that we’ve received from the community, it’s clear that non-Christians feel that the atmosphere of Christian privilege is overwhelming, and the Schofield statement seems more concerned about appeasing the majority than addressing that problem.”

The organization is waiting for a formal response from the district. It is unknown whether AHA will abandon its threat of a lawsuit following this past week’s directive from the Hall County Superintendent. As previously reported, over 200 students and their parents gathered in prayer on the Chestatee High School football field following AHA’s issuance of the threat as a means to show solidarity in support of their coaches.

“We choose to pray, they don’t make us pray,” Megan Ellis, a student at the high school, told reporters.

“I think [the controversy is] really ridiculous. Every school does it,” added Marlen Olvera. “Every school prays before football games and after football games. It’s not the coach’s decision; it’s the students decision.”

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  • Rob

    If they want a culture of atheism, then they can start getting more atheists to move to the area. As it stands, if the vast majority are Christians, then by popular vote they will choose to pray. These select few atheists have no right to enforce their belief system on the rest of the country, let alone by force of law, which is a violation of the Constitution many Christians died to create.

    • C,P, Steinmetz


      Just for your legal understanding, as you seem to have a totally reversed understanding:

      1. “by popular vote they will choose to pray.” People cannot vote to override the Constitution and laws. Your legal and civil rights are not subject to ‘majority rule.’

      2. Those ‘atheists’ have the absolute legal right to require everyone to follow the laws and the Constitution – this school system’s behavior is the violation.

      3. The ‘atheists’ belief system they are trying to enforce on everyone is following the law and the Constitution. Remember, this country does not have a state religion, as much as Christians would like to think Christianity is such.

      4. Christians, atheists, and people other than Christians died to establish and defend the Constitution; Christians still cannot violate it for all of that.

  • While not being a practicing Christian, I firmly believe in th personal rights of any human being to practice their beliefs, in as much as they do not do so in anger, or in dominant overbearing attitudes. We are supposed to be an enlightened race, so let’s practice th tolerance we all have access to.

  • Bret

    Again I say to Dan and Tim and anyone else who can read, “Read the Constitution.” You say, “if it (a prayer) is led by a teacher or representative of the school it is unconstitutional.” WRONG. The U.S. Constitution does not prohibit the people from praying at any time or at any function. What the 1st Amendment prohibits is for Congress to make any law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. A teacher praying is not an establishment of religion, it is the free exercise of his/her God given right to worship after the dictates of his/her own conscience and a constitutionally protected freedom. But you, like so many Americans today, have little to no understanding of the Constituion, it’s founders, or of their intent.

  • C.P. Steinmetz


    You do realize that the law of the land is the Constitution as interpreted by the Courts and the Supreme Court. And obviously, the courts have ruled that a teacher praying fits the ‘establishment’ clause. How is a student to know that when the teacher is praying s/he doesn’t have to follow or learn it as they do when the teacher teaches math or science? They cannot, so therefore, religious practices of teachers as part of their job is prohibited.

    It is the height of irony given your biased presentation and the misunderstanding you show here that you would denigrate others with:
    “you, like so many Americans today, have little to no understanding of the Constituion, it’s founders, or of their intent.”

  • Pax Humana

    Get over it, you humanist whine bags! The vast majority of people will ALWAYS be Christian and/or Jewish in this country, despite what you, your racist and sexist friends, and other friends of yours like unions, dishonest business owners, drug cartels, and other criminal syndicates, gangs, and the like say otherwise, period, full stop!

    • Kiska Jolene Lucas

      Gee, and here some people do not believe in the christian god or worship other gods but you advocate the forcing of one religion on them. What if I forced you through a Wiccan ritual would you like it? These kids are in an environment that is equivalent to a ‘captive audience’ and separate but equal has been ruled unconstitutional.

      • Pax Humana

        …and are YOU not guilty of doing the same deed? The United States Supreme Court said yes in 1961 and the United Stated Federal Court also said yes in 2005, so, as I said before, get over it, you humanist whine bag, and quit trying to push your religions down my throat!

        • Kiska Jolene Lucas

          Such love. I bet Yeshua would be so proud of you. I do not believe in your Devil, Lucifer whatever you want to call it. but then again I am not trying to force children by coercion or by threats of bullying into my prayers. I do not pray for others without their permission as it would be rude. Like it or not the Treaty of Tripoli is the law of the land and we are not a Christian nation.

      • Pax Humana

        …and yet here THEY are ALSO violating the law that they want to enforce on other people as well as they are completely oblivious and blind to their rather ironic state in their lives. Furthermore, in addition to being declared as, gasp, a RELIGION, or more, accurately, RELIGIONS, by the United States Supreme Court in 1961 and by the United States Federal Court in 2005, they are also in violation of a whole other laundry list of laws, such as violations of the Sherman Antitrust Act and other anti-monopolization laws, the RICO Act and other similar legislation, and for committing the acts of perjury, graft, racketeering, extortion, libel, slander, defamation of character, corruption, grand larceny, grand theft, treason, sedition, open rebellion against the United States Government, mass kidnapping, human trafficking, sexual trafficking, and various other war crimes, among MANY other violations of the law. Why should we permit people that do those things to run roughshod over people again?

      • Pax Humana

        You ARE doing that, though, Kiska, but you are too much of a moron to see it in your life because your boss Lucifer is lying to you.

  • James Grimes

    The Useless are legends in their own minds.

  • jmichael39

    This is hilarious…Prov. 27:17 says, “as iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another”. If that were a quote from some secular author, it would be okay, but because it came from the bible, it’s encouraging religion? It make Christianity predominant? Maybe these twits would like to ban the Declaration of Independence from schools because it invokes too much Christianity and references our Creator. Maybe they’d like to bulldoze all our major national monuments because many or most have scripture carved into them or images of Moses and the 10 commandments and such. Or maybe they would like the Library of Congress to get rid of the Guttenberg Bible they have there because…well, because its a bible…GASP!!.

    Live with it…many people in this country still believe in God and still pray to Him and still read and subscribe to His word. You don’t like it? Then don’t participate.