Saturday, November 07, 2015

N. Dakota Bans Prayer at Catholic School Football

Prayers will be heard over the PA system today, just like every other football day at Shanley High School, a Catholic school in Fargo, North Dakota where an emblematic Christian cross is displayed on the 50-yard line, despite a prayer ban by the state sports association claiming that prayer is illegal when the Catholic players compete on their own field during a playoff game.

For background, click headlines below to read previous articles:

Football Coach Forced to Stop Praying After Games in Washington

Arizona Schools Ban Christian Football Coaches

Atheists Threaten Georgia School for 'Football Baptisms'

Also read North Carolina Citizens Demand Prayer in Public School

And read North Dakota Pastor's Wife Fined for Praying Too Loud

-- From "Law firm wants school association to suspend prayer ban" by The Associated Press 11/7/15

A non-profit law firm has asked the North Dakota State High School Activities Association [NDHSAA] to suspend its ban on prayer during a football playoff game at Fargo Shanley High School.

KFGO says attorney Peter Breen of the Thomas More Society in Chicago is representing Shanley High School. Breen says he thinks the policy may be unconstitutional.

Breen says the Supreme Court has ruled it's unconstitutional to require private schools to give up their religious identity in order to participate in government sponsored programs.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Attorneys for Shanley High School say ban on prayer at playoff games is unconstitutional" by Grace Lyden, WDAY-TV6 (Fargo, ND) 11/6/15

"Shanley is not a governmental actor. It is a private school, with a religious identity," the [Thomas More Society] letter stated. "When it hosts sports events, it does so as a private actor, and its religious expression cannot legitimately be characterized as that of the state.

"It's played at their facility, but it is a postseason game," [NDHSAA] assistant director Justin Fletschock said. "The postseason contests are controlled by high school activities association."

"This 'sponsorship' is illusory; in all material respects, Shanley will be hosting the game exactly as it does in the regular season — it will, for example, run ticket sales, organize and sell concessions, provide an announcer to announce the game, and provide down markers," the letter from Peter Breen and Jocelyn Floyd said.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "North Dakota Officials Urged to Reverse Ban on Prayer at Catholic School Football Game" posted at Thomas More Society 11/6/15

“The Constitution doesn’t require the State of North Dakota to police pre-game prayers at Christian and Catholic high schools,” said Peter Breen, Thomas More Society Special Counsel. “People of faith don’t give up their freedoms of speech and religion just because they are engaged in state-sponsored sporting events. We urge the Activities Association to allow member schools with faith traditions to express their faith during post-season games, just as they do during the regular season.”

Shanley has led a prayer at its school football stadium before each of its regular season games, but it is prohibited Association policy from leading a prayer before the playoff game, as Association representatives have claimed that such a prayer would violate the Establishment Clause of the United States Constitution.

The religious identity of the hosting school will be unquestionable, as all attendees will also be “looking down on a massive Christian cross, featured in the Shanley crest, which is emblazoned in the center of the field at the fifty-yard line.”

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Catholic High School Football Program Banned From Praying Plans To Defy Rule" by Casey Harper, Daily Caller 11/6/15

. . . now that it is playoff time, the school says the [NDHSAA] association specifically told them they were not allowed to pray at Saturday’s game, which will be held at Shanley High’s field.

Shanley High School has teamed up with the Thomas More Society, a religious liberty legal group, and intends to defy the rule. The school sent a letter to the association Friday informing them of their intention to disobey, and that letter was provided to The Daily Caller News Foundation.

Shanley High School argues in the letter they are clearly a religious institution not subject to separation of church and state requirements.

While the association says allowing the prayers would violate the Establishement Clause as an official endorsement of religion, the school argues that actually denying the right to pray is the real violation of the First Amendment.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Ban on prayer at playoff games is unconstitutional, attorneys for Shanley High School say" by Grace Lyden, INFORUM (Fargo, ND) 11/6/15

Association leaders say [the prayer ban has] been the case during playoff season for 15 years. Although private schools are allowed to broadcast prayers before regular-season home games, playoff games are technically hosted by the association, which is public.

In previous postseason games held at Shanley, the school has skipped its usual prayer, said Michael Smith, superintendent of the Saint John Paul II Catholic Schools Network.

But for several years, administrators have started to wonder whether that’s right.

“We really wanted to make a formal request to the high school association and let them know there is a different perspective, and we wanted to hear their take on that,” Smith said.

Smith said Shanley has prayers before all of the school’s home events. At its football game against Central Cass three weeks ago, the Rev. Charles LaCroix led the crowd in prayer.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

Also read Deny God, or Fail, Texas Teacher Tells Students