Two parents filed a lawsuit against a Hobart, Indiana school district, arguing that prayers said before athletic events, graduations, and school board meetings violate the First Amendment.
Jim and Nichole Bellar filed the lawsuit regarding prayers said at events in the River Forest Community School Corp. after their son was allegedly ostracized after raising objections to the practice.
According to the lawsuit, the Bellars’ son who is identified by the initials J.B., played on several teams for his school and witnessed coach-led sectarian prayers before games or matches. When J.B. and another student complained to their football coach about the prayers, the lawsuit says they “were told that they had the option to just sit there and be quiet but that the prayers would continue and that they had to remain huddled with the team.”
Additionally, Jim Bellar and his son also complained to the athletic director, principal, assistant superintendent and superintendent and other staff members. The lawsuit says they “were told generally that J.B. should simply learn to get along better with his coaches, and no corrective action was taken.”
J.B.’s parents say the sophomore felt ostracized by the prayers and was singled out for harassment because of his objections.
In addition to stopping prayers before sporting events, the Bellars also want to bar prayers and invocations before school board meetings and graduation ceremonies.