By Sherhonda Allen
City Editor

The Lauderdale County school district is accused of violating the First Amendment by allowing prayers that invoke Jesus Christ to be broadcast over the loudspeaker before Brooks High School football games and at non-district games played on school property.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation calls the prayers illegal. Organizational representatives have written two letters to the school district on behalf of Lauderdale County resident Jeremy L. Green, who confirmed he filed the complaint with the foundation.

“It is coercive and inappropriate to ask students to listen while a prayer is delivered at athletic events,” Freedom From Religion Foundation staff attorney Stephanie Schmitt said in a news release emailed to the TimesDaily on Monday. “This is especially disturbing given the young age of these students.”

Lauderdale County schools Superintendent Bill Valentine said he has received the complaint.

“We have referred that to our attorney for him to research and to make a response,” Valentine said. “Some of the things they have mentioned are youth ball games that are not ours, but do take place on our campuses.”

Green, in an email response requested by the TimesDaily, said he is not trying to prevent individual Christians from praying, but that the law is clear.

“I am simply taking a stand for the Establishment Clause and the separation of church and state in an effort to protect the constitutional rights of the nonreligious,” he said.

“It is illegal for any public school to organize, sponsor or lead prayer at public athletic events,” said Green, who is a member of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Humanists of the Shoals, and American Atheists. “The Supreme Court of the United States of America has continually made rulings which strike down this practice as illegal.

“Student or faculty-led prayer at high school athletic events could be confusing for impressionable children who are raised in nonreligious or non-Christian homes and see the faculty member or student who is leading the prayer as a school sponsored authority figure.

“It is not the job of the public school system to endorse religion.”

Though Green specifically mentioned athletic events, he and the foundation’s representatives have included all school-sponsored events in the complaint.

“We ask that the school district commence an immediate investigation into the complaints alleged and take immediate action to stop any and all prayers occurring before any school-sponsored event,” Schmitt said.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, based in Madison, Wis., is a nonprofit group that bills itself as an educational organization and the nation’s largest association of freethinkers, including atheists and agnostics. According to its news release, there are 17,000 members nationwide — 150 in Alabama — and a state chapter, the Alabama Freethought Association.

The foundation lists more than 100 “legal successes” since 2009 on its website.

The organization is the same group that sent a letter to the Arab school system, contending that school district was violating the First Amendment and the rights of one family in the Arab community.

As a result of the letter, Arab Superintendent John Mullins in September ceased pregame prayers at Arab High School football games. Those games now begin with a moment of silence.

    
Original Post

The Freedom from Religion Foundation is correct in their interpretation of the constitution as it relates to school-sponsored prayer or other school-sponsored religious activity.  As to non-governmental groups that are not school-affiliated, but that might sometimes use the school's athletic facilities, there is no constitutional reason that such group can not have prayers or other religious exercises on the school's property, so long as those activities are strictly directed and controlled by the private interests, and not the school (an arm of government). It is not clear from the article whether the Freedom from Religion Foundation's complaint would extend to such private activities on school grounds.

 

A public school can make its property available to all kinds of groups, religious and otherwise.  It is not uncommon for churches to lease space in public school facilities to conduct church services.  Of course, the school system must not discriminate in favor of one religious group or another, which would imply an endorsement.  I know of no controversy that has emerged from such a practice.

 

For a long time, in the "Bible Belt" and elsewhere, public, school-endorsed prayers have been commonplace and have generally gotten a "free ride," so to speak, since the practice is very widespread and since there is rarely anyone who is motivated to object to the practice on constitutional grounds.  Lauderdale County officials would be wise to cease the practice rather than to bear the legal costs of vainly attempting to defend it. The downside of such a decision would be to invite ignorant criticism from the under-educated, hard-nosed right wing die-hards who will continue to lament that, "The Supreme Court has taken God out of our schools" and who will condemn the responsible officials for not "standing up for Jesus."

Some of the comments under the story were hilarious, especially the one from the person that didn't know mr. green and had no idea how to contact him, but still went right ahead and told mr. green about his life. Then he left his email address for mr. green so they could "discuss" it. I wonder what this man's qualifications are that he can sit on a forum and tell someone he doesn't know how they live and think and their educational background. I like the part where he proclaims he's not even a christian. Uh huh, sure- wink wink. The "christians" on the forum may want to look away when you get to the word delusional. And I like the part too where this person, on the verge of losing it, accuses mr. green of having rage. LOL!!

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I've been looking for Jeremy Green's contact information but haven't been able to find it. I decided to leave this here.

 

Jeremy, I could hardly be called a Christian, but you **** me off. You scream about your First Amendment rights, which you've twisted to the point they don't even remotely resemble what's in the Constitution, but you are completely oblivious to the rights of others. You've built up some fantasy of what you want the Constitution to be for you and have somehow convinced yourself that it is reality. Nice work, for sure, but most people in the mental health field would call that delusional. I've never met you, but I've met many, many people just like you. I'm sure I can describe you pretty well. Let me try:

 

You're relatively uneducated with probably a HS degree and you've taken maybe a college class or two, but little more. You did well in the classes you took, but couldn't be bothered to invest the time in continuing. You don't see the value in education because you feel you're the capstone of enlightenment and you have probably been known to claim that you "know better than those teachers anyway".

 

You don't really have much of a career, but that isn't your fault, right? It's those mean old companies who just can't see the value in your skeptic ways who are to blame. That's OK with you because you're going to have the last laugh, right?

 

All of that was just for fun. Here's what I really want to say about you:

 

You don't really distrust or dislike Christians in particular. It's all people in all walks of life that you are wary of. You've just found Christians to be easy marks for your rage, and that, Jeremy, is the essence of your problem. You're a pathetic little self-centered, ignorant ego-maniac with a poor self image who has never moved past the grade school bully stage. You feel that a tough persona will make you feel better about yourself, but that hasn't really worked, has it?

 

So now you resort to whining to some anti-christian group, not because you're upset with Christians, but because you're so miserable in the shallow, worthless life you've built for yourself that you'll resort to this just to feel a bit of power. It's control you seek rather than "freedom from religion" and you think this group can bring you a small taste.

 

Fortunately for you, the targets you've chosen are mostly good and caring people who won't retaliate. They feel compassion towards your pathetic existence. I don't. I'm not good or caring. I don't feel anything toward your misery, but I do get ****ed off at worthless wastes of humanity like you who can't mind their own business. If you can't read a simple statement like the First Amendment and understand that it means the exact opposite of what you want it to mean, you're a lost cause. No wonder your family has deserted you.

 

Want to discuss this further? You can reach me at mghallman@gmail.com. I look forward to hearing you cry.

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Originally Posted by Bestworking:

Some of the comments under the story were hilarious, especially the one from the person that didn't know mr. green and had no idea how to contact him, but still went right ahead and told mr. green about his life. Then he left his email address for mr. green so they could "discuss" it. I wonder what this man's qualifications are that he can sit on a forum and tell someone he doesn't know how they live and think and their educational background. I like the part where he proclaims he's not even a christian. Uh huh, sure- wink wink. The "christians" on the forum may want to look away when you get to the word delusional. And I like the part too where this person, on the verge of losing it, accuses mr. green of having rage. LOL!!

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That description could fit our forum wanna be preacher. 

mghallman is among the legions of clueless wingnuts who actually believe that their interpretation of the First Amendment trumps that of the U.S Supreme Court. Mghallman takes the nonsense one step further in his/her silly venture into attempted clairvoyant analysis of Mr. Green's life history and motivation. Mghallman's characterization of Mr. Green's legitimate complaint as "whining" is especially obnoxious.  No one who contends for the proper application of established  constitutional principles should ever be classified as a "whiner." But the beat will continue to go on, as those who, like mghallman, continue to labor under the delusion that people like Mr. Green are delusional.

I did think it was odd that "shoalanda" thought it was her place to post about that, but i guess she feels it's her "christian duty". But she should realize too that others can do the same. There are plenty of "upstanding" religious folks that have legal problems. I know of one preacher that has a habit of writing bad checks. Will she do a background check on ALL involved in the "conflict"? Oh well.

Yes, Shoalda's personal attacks and attempts to expose Mr. Green say more about her than it does about Mr. Green. I disagree with Mr. Greens philosophy but he has a right to it.  Whatever happened to Jesus'  command to pray in private? 

Folks get so worked up about this. The Supreme Court has said time and again that school sponsored prayer is unconstitutional. I have heard "they took prayer out of school" all my life. Its nonsense each child still has the right to pray privately and the right to read his or her religious material of choice during free time.

quote:   Originally Posted by Red Baron:

Folks get so worked up about this. The Supreme Court has said time and again that school sponsored prayer is unconstitutional. I have heard "they took prayer out of school" all my life. Its nonsense each child still has the right to pray privately and the right to read his or her religious material of choice during free time.


Hi Red,

 

Obviously you live in a very narrow, protected part of this beautiful nation.  Come outside sometime and look around.  Anti-Christian prejudice today is just as flagrant as anti-black prejudice was in the 1950s.   Yes, you can deny it all you want.  Birmingham denied it back then --but, that did not change the truth.

 

So, go ahead and wet your pants -- for we are NOT going to keep quiet about our Jesus Christ and our God.

 

God bless, have a wonderful, blessed day,

 

Bill

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Don't you just love it when all the atheists and other vanilla-flavored non-believers wet their pants when we mention Jesus Christ?

 

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Well you'd have to tell us about wyp, I've never done that. What I do love is when you get your  ***** knocked down when you think the laws don't apply to you. BTW, what did sheronda allen do besides report a news story? Could your addled brain be mixing her up with shoalanda?

Originally Posted by Bill Gray:

Hi all,

Don't you just love it when all the atheists and other vanilla-flavored non-believers wet their pants when we mention Jesus Christ?  Do you suppose it is because they are afraid to remove the blanky from over their heads and recognize that God created and owns this world, them included, and they WILL stand before Him one day -- to explain their superior intellects (?) which deny Him.  

While I know we Christian believers will not be there when they DO stand before Him -- but, haven't you thought about being a "fly on the wall" just once -- to see their faces when they finally cannot deny the Truth?

No, I am not gloating that they will stand before Him in judgment -- only stating the Truth.  They will!!  And, they should be preparing to avoid that judgment instead of wasting so much effort in denying the very Obvious. 

Bill

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Don't you just love it when our perfect resident wanna be preacher puts on his Christian hat & comes on here to tell us we’re all going to Hell & in all his excitement, he wets his pants?

 

 Do you suppose he’s afraid to remove the blanky from over his head & recognize that God is the only Judge, & he WILL stand before Him one day -- to explain his superior attitude, to find out that his superior intellect (?) wasn’t all he thought it was?

 

Of course, who knows, we might be there when Bill stands before Him -- but, if we aren’t, wouldn’t you love to be a "fly on the wall"  just once -- to see Bill’s face when he finally cannot deny the Truth of what we’ve tried to tell him? 

 

No, I am not gloating that Bill will stand before Him in judgment……Oh, Ok, I’m gloating! And only stating the Truth. He will!! 

And, he should be preparing to avoid that judgment instead of wasting so much effort judging us all when he should be getting the beam out of his own eye!

 

 

Bill

The God I serve does not need the state force feeding prayer to touch hearts and lives. This is demonstrated in the lives of his people. I am sorry that you think prayers repeated over a loudspeaker at a ball game means so much. Really you do put God in a box.

Obviously you live in a very narrow, protected part of this beautiful nation.  Come outside sometime and look around.  Anti-Christian prejudice today is just as flagrant as anti-black prejudice was in the 1950s.   Yes, you can deny it all you want.  Birmingham denied it back then --but, that did not change the truth.

 

So, go ahead and wet your pants -- for we are NOT going to keep quiet about our Jesus Christ and our God.

 

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Really bill? As bad as prejudice in the 1950s? Really? And what is your OBSESSION with people wetting their pants?? Gaggggggggggggggggg

Originally Posted by Bestworking:

Obviously you live in a very narrow, protected part of this beautiful nation.  Come outside sometime and look around.  Anti-Christian prejudice today is just as flagrant as anti-black prejudice was in the 1950s.   Yes, you can deny it all you want.  Birmingham denied it back then --but, that did not change the truth.

 

So, go ahead and wet your pants -- for we are NOT going to keep quiet about our Jesus Christ and our God.

 

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Really bill? As bad as prejudice in the 1950s? Really? And what is your OBSESSION with people wetting their pants?? Gaggggggggggggggggg

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I bet Bill is an ammonia sniffer.

 

Originally Posted by INVICTUS:
Originally Posted by Bestworking:

Obviously you live in a very narrow, protected part of this beautiful nation.  Come outside sometime and look around.  Anti-Christian prejudice today is just as flagrant as anti-black prejudice was in the 1950s.   Yes, you can deny it all you want.  Birmingham denied it back then --but, that did not change the truth.

 

So, go ahead and wet your pants -- for we are NOT going to keep quiet about our Jesus Christ and our God.

 

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Really bill? As bad as prejudice in the 1950s? Really? And what is your OBSESSION with people wetting their pants?? Gaggggggggggggggggg

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I bet Bill is an ammonia sniffer.

 

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eeeeyowwwwwwwwwwwww!!

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