Atheist Group Gets Triggered by High School Football Game Prayer

While conflicts over politics and ideologies escalate on social media in an election season, so do “wagging-finger” warnings to schools from organizations like the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation, a religious freedom expert told the “Todd Starnes Show” Oct. 21.

“My biggest concern—whether it’s the Valdosta city schools or really any other school district in the country—is that they get a really one-sided letter from a group that has a really vested interested in driving religion from the public square,” said Jeremy Dys of First Liberty Institute.

The FFRC declared open season again this year on the Valdosta City School District in Georgia when they sent a warning letter after students prayed over the loudspeaker prior to the opening of the season’s first football game.

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The scenario is repeated all too often and Dys, special counsel at the Texas-based, non-profit legal organization, wants to come alongside the Valdosta and any other school district in the country to make sure they have the right information and resources to defend themselves when it comes to student religious speech.

A Texas policy, passed in 2007, called “The Texas Religious Viewpoint Antidiscrimination Act and the Establishment Cause,” summarized and explained in a 2019 document by the Texas Association of School Boards, provides for much more than student-led prayer at football games, but protects other student speech on campus as well, he said.

In “homeroom, history class, student assignments, [and at] graduation time, let’s make sure we have a fully orbed policy in place so this doesn’t happen anymore,” Dys said. “That policy in the state of Texas has never even been challenged, it’s so good. And I think if they adopt that policy, and any city, state, or county can adopt that same policy—they should—because we want to maximize religious liberty in this country, not minimize it.”

Suggesting adoption of a similar policy is a “respectful” way to continue religious liberty and to address concerns raised by other citizens, Dys paraphrased a warning Ronald Reagan gave in his January 5, 1967 Inaugural Address:

“Freedom is just one generation away from being removed from all of us,” Dys paraphrased. ‘”It’s up to you and I to renew our commitment to that cause of freedom every single generation and transmit it to our children. It doesn’t come through the bloodstream. We actually have to do that hard work of teaching them what freedom actually means because if we don’t, he said, we will one day wake up and wonder what happened to the United States of America.”