Florida’s Cambridge Christian School threatened to file a lawsuit Tuesday against the Florida High School Athletic Association because the association refused to let the school pray on the loudspeaker before its football game.
The school believes the association’s ruling was a violation to their First Amendment rights, Fox 13 News reports.
Last December, Cambridge Christian School faced off against University Christian School in the 2A state championship football game. The two Christian schools requested a prayer over the loudspeaker, as was customary for both teams; however, the FHSAA rejected the request.
The head of the FSHAA, Dr. Roger Dearing, defended the association’s decision in a email. “In Florida Statutes, the FHSAA (host and coordinator of the event) is legally a ‘State Actor,’ we cannot legally permit or grant permission for such an activity.”
In response to the denial, Cambridge Christian School hired an attorney from the Liberty Institute, a non-profit that aims to “restore religious liberty in America.”
The attorney, Jeremy Dys, told Fox 13, “Religious liberty is not something that the government just gives to us, it’s something that God has given to us and the government is bound, duty-bound, by the First Amendment to respect it.”
“What is the Florida High School Athletic Association teaching our student athletes in this state? They’re telling the entire state that it’s wrong to pray,” Dys continued. “Well I’ve got a message for each one of the students across this country, every student athlete in Florida: it’s not wrong to pray in public.”
Headmaster of Cambridge Christian School Tim Euler responded, saying, “Frankly, it was frustrating, it hurt, we were upset about it, but we firmly believe that this is something that can be resolved.”
One student on the football team weighed in on the issue telling the Christian Post, “We were really excited to play in the championship game. But then we showed up and they wouldn’t let us pray. It’s been our tradition ever since I’ve been on the team, and our tradition was ruined. It made me wonder, is it wrong to pray?”
Liberty Institute wrote to Dearing, “We require the FHSAA to issue a written apology to CCS for this gross violation along with written assurances that, in the future, the FHSAA will abide by the U.S. Constitution. If the FHSAA refuses to meet these simple demands by February 25, 2016, our clients are prepared to seek redress in federal court, inclusive of our client’s attorney’s fees and costs.”
A spokesperson from the FHSAA defended the association’s actions, stating, “Previous Supreme Court cases all stated that state actors cannot allow prayer over a public address system because it’s the same as an endorsement of prayer.”
The same spokesperson told CNSNews.com that he does “not anticipate an apology” to Cambridge Christian School.