Religious Liberty
An American Heritage

Prayer Prohibition Bypassed

In June, the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that student-led, student-initiated prayer using school sound systems violates the separation of church and state. Fort Gibson, Texas however has joined a growing list of schools working to bypass the ruling legally.

This season high school students have been filling the field for prayer prior to games rather than praying over the public address (PA) system. In the stands, fans are joining them. Also, Christian music is played during halftime shows.

Students started meeting on the field for prayer prior to games and joined hands in prayer when the football season started. Similarly, fans in their seats started doing the same thing.

Senior Sarah Baumann said, "They made that law saying we can't do it, and this is our way of saying we're going to do it."

The crowd on the field was small initially, however each game the numbers grew. Prior to a game with Broken Bow, the crowd covered nearly the entire field.

Waiting to take the field until after the prayer were both teams and game officials. The crowd was urged by students holding displays to "please stand and pray with us." Approximately 1,500 fans responded.

Senior Rob Brown, president of the school's Teens for Christ Club and Fort Gibson's Fellowship of Christian Athletes chapter said, "They're getting the hang of it now." The public prayer meetings have been spear-headed by Brown.

High school principal Gary Sparks said the entire community supports the displays. "All the response I've gotten is very positive. The parents are glad the kids are taking the initiative to have a positive influence on the community."

At a recent show the marching band started by bowing for prayer at halftime. Four Christian songs were included in the band performances.

("Crowds bypass prayer prohibition," The Associated Press, October 28, 2000)

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