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Liberty Institute Hits Back after Florida Athletic Association Forbids Christian Schools to Pray at Football Games

( [email protected] ) Jan 26, 2016 05:07 PM EST
The Liberty Institute, the largest legal organization dedicated solely to defending and restoring religious liberty in America, is hitting back after an organization ordered two Christian schools in Florida to stop praying before championship games.
Cambridge Christian School students praying at high school football game, per their tradition. (Photo credit: Beth Dare Photography, courtesy of Liberty Institute)

The Liberty Institute, the largest legal organization dedicated solely to defending and restoring religious liberty in America, is hitting back after an organization ordered two Christian schools in Florida to stop praying before championship games. 

According to a press release from the organization, Cambridge Christian School, a private Christian school in Tampa, Florida, was scheduled to face off against University Christian School at the 2015 2A State Championship Football Game, held at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando.

Since both schools have a tradition of praying before the games, CCS asked the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA)  for permission to offer a pre-kickoff prayer over the loud speaker.

However, the FHSAA forbade the schools from praying at the championship game, arguing that somehow the private prayer could be viewed as an endorsement of religion since the Christian schools would be praying on government property. 

Cambridge Christian School
Jacob Enns, kicker for CCS, after making the game-winning field goal that sent CCS into the state championship (Photo credit: Andy Warrener, courtesy of Liberty Institute)

Jeremy Dys, Senior Counsel for Liberty Institute, says, "By banning prayer, the FHSAA sent a message to these kids that prayer is wrong and something you should be ashamed of.  They are on the wrong side of the law. We are committed to restoring the rights of these students-and all students across the State of Florida-to pray without government censorship."  

Thus, on Tuesday, January 28, the Liberty Institute send a letter to the FHSAA disputing such claims, arguing that no average person could watch two Christian football teams praying and interpret that as government endorsement of religion. Attorneys for the faith-based organization explain that the FHSAA engaged in unlawful discrimination and violated the fundamental religious liberty rights of the students and administrators of CCS by refusing the school's request to pray. 

Jacob Enns, the kicker for the CCS football team, says, "We were really excited to play in the championship game. But then we showed up and they wouldn't let us pray. It's been our tradition ever since I've been on the team, and our tradition was ruined. It made me wonder, is it wrong to pray?" 

CCS Head of School, Tim Euler, echoed such a sentiment, stating, "In the football program, we are working to raise godly young men that can make a difference in the world. Prayer is a big part of that. It's central to who we are as a school and a team."