Prayer at public school football games, including over the school loudspeaker, does not violate the Constitution if it is a student message and not the school’s, according to the Foundation for Moral Law which last Friday sent a memorandum on the subject to all Alabama school superintendents.
The Memorandum on Student Religious Speech at Athletic Events countered letters sent by the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation (“FFRF”) to several Alabama public schools claiming that prayer at school athletic events is unconstitutional and demanding that schools immediately stop the practice.
Foundation President Kayla Moore explained: “The courts have never issued a blanket prohibition on prayer at athletic events. Provided the prayers are student-initiated and student-led, they are protected by the Free Speech and Free Exercise Clauses of the First Amendment and may be broadcast over the public address system.”
The Memorandum analyzes several U.S. Supreme Court and Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals decisions, cites examples of schools responses to those decisions, and suggests a sample policy for schools concerning prayer at athletic events.
Foundation for Moral Law Senior Counsel John Eidsmoe added: “Often the FFRF’s letters say what the FFRF wishes the Constitution said rather than what it actually says or what the courts have said about it. We invite school officials to contact us so that we can help them draft a student-speech policy for athletic events that is constitutional and fair to all concerned.”