Court Considers: Can Gov’t Ban Christian Schools from Praying at State Championships?


Court Considers: Can Gov’t Ban Christian Schools from Praying at State Championships?

A federal appeals court is considering whether Christian private schools can be banned from offering a public prayer over the loudspeakers if the game is a state-run championship. 

The controversy began in 2015 when Cambridge Christian School in Florida advanced to the state 2A division championship game against University Christian School. Both schools wanted to offer a pre-game prayer over the loudspeakers in following with their home stadium tradition, but the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) — which ran the event — declined their request. The game was played at Camping World Stadium (then called the Citrus Bowl) in Orlando. 

Cambridge Christian School sued the FHSAA and lost at the district level but appealed to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which heard the case in September. Both sides are now awaiting a decision. 

First Liberty Institute is representing the school.

“Just think about how far the consequences go,” First Liberty said in a post on its website this month. “If state officials can discriminate against two private, Christian schools and prevent them from praying in public, it won’t be long before they pick and choose other types of speech to censor. And so we ask: Where does this assault on free speech stop?”

The appeals court is one level below the U.S. Supreme Court.

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