Amid a long-running legal battle, the Florida House on Friday moved forward with a proposal that could allow schools to offer prayers over public-address systems before events such as high-school championship football games.
The proposal, added to an education bill (HB 7103), would require the Florida High School Athletic Association to make changes that would lead to schools being offered 30 seconds for opening remarks over public-address systems.
“The FHSAA may not prohibit prayer or otherwise control, monitor, or review the content of the opening remarks, if any,” the proposal said. “Prior to the opening remarks, the public-address announcer shall announce that the content of any opening remarks by a participating school is not endorsed by and does not reflect the views and opinions of the FHSAA.”
The House could pass the bill, sponsored by Education Chairwoman Jennifer Sullivan, R-Mount Dora, as soon as Monday. The House and the Senate then would have to reach agreement before the bill could become law.
The proposal emerged amid a federal-court fight that stems from a 2016 football championship game between Cambridge Christian School of Tampa and University Christian School of Jacksonville. The Florida High School Athletic Association, the governing body of high school sports, denied a request to use the public-address system at Orlando’s Camping World Stadium to offer a pre-game prayer.
Cambridge Christian School filed a lawsuit against the association, arguing that its First Amendment rights had been violated.
U.S. District Judge Charlene Edwards Honeywell in 2017 dismissed the case, writing that Cambridge Christian’s position “amounts to a request that the FHSAA open its loudspeaker, which otherwise is not accessible to private parties, to allow for prayer to be broadcast during a government controlled and hosted event. This would likewise be perceived as state endorsement of Cambridge Christian’s religious message.”
But a three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned that ruling last year and sent the case back to the lower court, where it is pending.
“The lower court was too quick to pull the trigger insofar as it dismissed the appellants’ (Cambridge’s) free speech and free exercise (of religion) claims,” the 70-page appeals court decision said. “We cannot say whether these claims will ultimately succeed, but Cambridge Christian has plausibly alleged enough to enter the courtroom and be heard.”
Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran, a former state House speaker, late last year called on the Florida High School Athletic Association to “conduct an immediate review of its policies and procedures to ensure religious expression is permitted to the greatest extent possible under the law.”
But the association has argued that allowing the schools to offer a prayer over the loudspeaker would have been viewed as “government speech.”
–Jim Saunders, News Service of Florida
Like any event, the game as the show is bigger than any anthem or prayer. That’s fine if anyone wants to do that, but those that take that moment elsewhere shouldn’t be judged for what they want to do in any given moment of the event or their life for that matter. Don’t get me wrong, I just never really saw what the big deal over Kaepernick kneeling really had anything to do with what anyone else had to do with anyone else other than himself. If it was his protest, I wasn’t watching that & what Keapernick was doing during the national anthem or what Reggie White did for prayer before or after a game. Just like I don’t rate out anyone kneeling vs sitting at a pew in church. I always have kept a ball game separate for patriotism & religion. I’ve found (my) life to be better that way.
Very, very bad idea.
William Moya says
Why don’t we just drop all pretenses of secularism and become sunnis and shias and go at it?
Here Spot says
I would prefer an ALL-OUT religious WAR in America. My motto is ” GUNS for GOD “.
Happy birthday says
I think we already achieved this goal, yet we call them republican and democrat.
Karen S. says
To allow prayer at the games would be so Unpatriotic. Very very Unamerican to allow prayer in public at an event of this type.
What about the children that must hear these un american prayers!? What are they being taught? Such a shame these people want to spew their ideologies in front of others and teach pur kids not to respect american law and our history.
Our fore-fathers would not stand for such blatent attempts to corrupt our youth. Please keep you un lawful prayer in your secluded churches like we allow you to.
Grandstanding BS to appeal to the bible thumping segment of the Republican base. Hope they have set aside a goodly sum of our taxpayer money to defend the inevitable lawsuits.
Rah, Rah, Rah, let’s play! AMEN!!!
@”…Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran, a former state House speaker…”
So mini rump rev desantis appoints li’l dick corcoran to hand out bibbles (sic) and the rest of us have to pay these chuckle heads’ (desantis, corcoran, et. al.) salaries, health insurance, Per Diem, etc, etc.
What’s next = prayer rugs, sacrificial alters, public address loud speakers calling Republicans to prey (sic) 5 times a day?
God has a strange sense of humor. And so it goes.
As a non- Christian I am always surprised that public prayer leaders always feel the need to close with “in Jesus’ name we pray.” Get a clue.
Merrill S Shapiro says
Shouldn’t that read:
Amid a long-running legal battle, the Florida House on Friday moved forward with a proposal that could allow schools to coerce students into participating in prayers over public-address systems before events such as high-school championship football games.
After all, students required to be present for prayers (e.g. band members who will fail band if they don’t show up) will have their religious freedom taken away from them. Let’s stand up for them!
Sheila Zinkerman says
Sing to the music of Take Me Out To The Ball Game Norworth, Von Tilzer
Take me out to the ballpark pews,
Take me out with my flock,
Buy me some penance and daily bread,
It’s 7th inning stretch and my prayers have been said.
Let me pray pray pray with my own flock,
If you don’t join you’ll be skewed,
For it’s father, son, and the holy ghost at the ballpark pews.
Name (required) says
Lol! Could you imagine the uproar if they were Muslim, Buddhist or Hindu prayers? Heck, even more wild, what if they took the moment to pray to the Flying Spaghetti Monster??” LOLOLOL, People would lose their Effin’ minds!! People never cease to amaze.
Maybe the answer is simply to release a pride of about 100 hungry lions in the stadium at half time, let them eat the so called Chritians.
Stephen Smith says
I believe everyone has the right to practice their belief. I don’t believe they have the right to force their beliefs on others. Adding prayers to school events in a parochial school is one thong, But, they have no place in the secular public school system. This plan goes against the founding fathers principles of government endorsing a particular religion. The sepertion of church and state is a cornerstone of our constitution.
I most certainly agree, the separation between church and state is as you say, “the cornerstone of our Constitution”. They are considering doing that partly due to the religious fanatical Rep. from Mount Dora. I would to know if she would agree to allow Buddhist and Muslim prayers to read in English afterwards.
I mean if we are going to do that, ALL religions should be represented. This IS America and in thought at least, the land of freedom, so since all are equal, we should by right grant other religions the same opportunity.