Etowah County High School in Attalla, Ala., opened its season Thursday night with a student-led prayer over the loudspeaker. Head football coach Raymond Farmer said the prayer was not in defiance of the Supreme Court order and was recited because “we think that’s what we should do.”
Farmer says prayer is as much a part of playing football in Etowah County as putting on pads.
In the West Texas town of Merkel, a large portion of about 250 fans bowed their heads and removed their hats before the kickoff of Friday’s game against Bangs. And before the Merkel team exited the field house, about 35 parents briefly gathered in a prayer circle on the track, holding hands for an invocation asking to God watch over the players.
Meanwhile, Tyler’s Robert E. Lee High School chose an alternative demonstration of faith. The school’s Red Raider Band played a Christian chorus during a planned moment of silence following the national anthem.
Friday’s recitations paled in comparison to other pre-game expressions of faith at football games around the country since the high court’s ruling.
In Hattiesburg, Miss., 4,500 stood to pray before a game last week. In Asheville, N.C., 25,000 people gathered at a football stadium for a rally sponsored by a group urging the recitation of “The Lord’s Prayer” at football games.
Details of the Case
In June, the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that amplified, student-led prayer approved by public school officials crossed the line in the separation of church and state.
The Santa Fe Independent School District was the defendant in the case. After the ruling, it ended its tradition of pre-game prayer.
Advocates said the prayer was meant to be a testament to their right of free speech. Even their former adversaries in court agreed.
“The simple act of any group deciding they want to voice any opinion, that’s speech we fight 100 percent of the time to protect,” said Martin Mayne, president of the Houston chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.
ABC Radio and The Associated Press contributed to this report.