Coaches Blocked from Leading Team Prayer After Complaint

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A Georgia school system announced a new rule restricting faculty from leading student prayer at high school football games after receiving a complaint from the Freedom From Religion Foundation.

According to 11 Alive News, the Freedom From Religion Foundation filed a complaint to the Coweta County (Ga.) School System on Oct. 25 following an incident where East Coweta High School football coach John Small was seen praying with student-athletes on the field. The Foundation has filed similar complaints across the country, with the aim of maintaining strict and rigid boundaries between church and state.

Related: Foundation Demands Cessation of Pre-Game Prayer

The complaint letter called the coach-led prayer a “serious and flagrant violation of the First Amendment,” and noted that “It is illegal for public school athletic coaches to lead their team in prayer.” The Foundation’s complaint went on to describe legal precedent in which courts have blocked such practices.

In response, the school superintendent reportedly informed principals at each of the system’s three high schools to advise that no school or volunteer staff may lead or participate in any religious activity as a part of any high school football game.

“We appreciate the district’s swift action to address the violation and its commitment to protecting the rights of conscience for all of its students,” Foundation co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor said after the superintendent’s action.


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