The Freedom From Religion Foundation is an atheist group notorious for trying to stamp out religion in public life.
School-sponsored prayer is high on its list of unacceptable practices, and the group decided to go after a small Missouri high school whose football team routinely participates in a post-game prayer.
The FFRF sent a letter to the Cameron School District in Cameron, Missouri, asking for the superintendent to investigate the prayers to determine if they are “illegal,” according to Fox News.
The organization also accused two football coaches of proselytizing unwilling players.
“We ask that the district commence an investigation into the complaints alleged and take immediate action to stop any and all school-sponsored prayers or religious worship,” FFRF attorney Christopher Line wrote in the letter.
Line also asked the district to inform the FFRF of how it will “remedy this serious and flagrant violation of the First Amendment,” as if an atheist group should be the sole arbiter of how much religion is acceptable in the United States.
District superintendent Dr. Matt Robinson told Fox News that the district is investigating the FFRF’s concerns and will continue to uphold the district’s policy of not endorsing religion, but he has never received a complaint from anyone in the community about the prayers.
Without any kids or parents complaining about being forced to pray by the coaches, there is no reason for a national group to take an interest in a small town’s activities. As far as the facts lead so far, the FFRF is way out of line.
What the FFRF surely knows, but will unlikely admit, is that voluntary participation in religious activities, even during school events, is not a “serious and flagrant violation of the First Amendment.”
If it were up to the atheists in this foundation, they would cut the First Amendment off after it prohibits the establishment of a state religion.
Unfortunately for them, the Constitution also prohibits restrictions on the free exercise of religion.
Without any complaints from the kids, it’s safe to assume that the players are exercising their own religion freely, and not being forced by the coaches.
It may come as a surprise to the FFRF, but small rural towns tend to be full of Christians, and the foundation needs to just let them do what they want to do without trying to bully the school district into banning something that probably didn’t offend anyone within a 20-mile radius.
Jeremy Dys, an attorney for the First Liberty Institute, said as much in his own letter sent in response to the FFRF complaint.
“This letter is little more than a noisy, public complaint meant to harass and embarrass Americans just trying to live their lives,” he told Fox News. “Unless someone presents a plaintiff with actual legal standing, school officials should ignore these letters. No one should reward efforts to gin up controversy where none exists.”
Dys is exactly right. The residents of Cameron, Missouri, are much more inclined to know and understand their values than the FFRF is.
They should be allowed to decide for themselves.
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