A Georgia pastor was barred from praying with his local high school football team after a video of the gathering went viral. But that’s not stopping the players from praying before games.
After an atheist group’s complaint led to Pastor Russell Davis being banned from praying over them before games, the Dawson County Tigers resolved to keep the tradition going anyway.
Dawson County Tigers, together in brotherhood from the beginning.
Posted by Thomas Stearnes on Friday, September 7, 2018
The viral video, taken in September, showed Davis praying for the players before their game, asking for God’s protection both on and off the field.
“The Word says when they came out they compelled him to carry the cross, and then Jesus went to the hill and he won victory on the cross,” Pastor Davis said, according to 11Alive.com. “Your goal tonight is not to die on the cross. It is not to die on the field of battle. We’re calling you out tonight to carry their cross.”
The Freedom From Religion Foundation, a Wisconsin-based atheist watchdog group, found the viral video of Russell, the team’s “character coach,” and immediately demanded that he be fired.
“It is well-settled law that schools cannot appoint or employ a chaplain, seek out a spiritual leader for students or agree to have a volunteer teach other people’s children that character centers on religious belief, because public schools may not advance or promote religion,” the group wrote in a statement. “The school cannot allow non-school adults access to the children in its charge, and it certainly cannot grant that access to ministers seeking to grow and target their religious ministries using students. This is a violation of both students’ and parents’ rights.”
This past Monday, an attorney for the Dawson County School District responded to the FFRF.
“The district is committed to complying with the principles set forth in the First Amendment including the Establishment Clause while protecting the rights of students to exercise their freedom of religion rights under the Constitution,” attorney Phillip Hartley wrote. “The superintendent has spoken with appropriate individuals and employees and is confident that any prayer in a school setting that involves students will be voluntary, student-initiated and student-led so as to protect the rights of all students in the district. This appl [ies] to staff as well as volunteers,”
But the faithful football team found away to comply with the school’s policy and keep prayer a part of their game day routine. According to the Dawson County News, during their game on Sept. 21, the team lead a pre-game prayer as usual. Following their prayer, they beat Lumpkin Country High School 36-3.
(H/T: CBN News)