Today, Liberty Institute sent a demand letter to the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) on behalf of Cambridge Christian School (CCS), a private Christian school in Tampa, Florida. Read demand letter.
The school was scheduled to face off against University Christian School at the 2015 2A State Championship Football Game, held at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando. Since both schools have a tradition of praying before the games, CCS asked the FHSAA for permission to offer a prekickoff prayer over the loud speaker. The FHSAA forbade the schools from praying at the championship game, arguing that somehow the private prayer could be viewed as an endorsement of religion since the Christian schools would be praying on government property.
Liberty Institute contends that no average person could watch two Christian football teams praying and interpret that as government endorsement of religion. Liberty Institute attorneys explain that the FHSAA engaged in unlawful discrimination and violated the fundamental religious liberty rights of the students and administrators of CCS by refusing the school’s request to pray.
Jacob Enns, the kicker for the CCS football team, says, “We were really excited to play in the championship game. But then we showed up and they wouldn’t let us pray. It’s been our tradition ever since I’ve been on the team, and our tradition was ruined. It made me wonder, is it wrong to pray?”
CCS Head of School, Tim Euler, said, “In the football program, we are working to raise godly young men that can make a difference in the world. Prayer is a big part of that. It’s central to who we are as a school and a team.”
Jeremy Dys, Senior Counsel for Liberty Institute, says, “By banning prayer, the FHSAA sent a message to these kids that prayer is wrong and something you should be ashamed of. They are on the wrong side of the law. We are committed to restoring the rights of these students— and all students across the State of Florida—to pray without government censorship.”
About First Liberty Institute
First Liberty Institute is the largest nonprofit legal organization in the nation dedicated solely to defending religious liberty for all Americans. To arrange an interview, contact Kassie Dulin, Director of Legal Communications for First Liberty Institute. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Direct: 972-941-9575, Cell: 214-542-4334.