ACLU says prayer at high school football games is unconstitutional

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) The Tennessee ACLU issued a statement Friday to all superintendents, urging any who allow prayer before a football game to stop because it's a violation of rights.

The letter says it is in response to learning that several public high schools are sponsoring prayer at football games, and that for the protection of religious freedom, the school needs to discontinue that practice.

The letter cites Supreme Court cases from Texas and Sante Fe, as well as the First Amendment's Establishment Clause as examples of why praying at a public school event is unconstitutional.

The letter also says that "school sponsorship of a religious message is impermissible because it sends the ancillary message to members of the audience who are non-adherents 'that they are outsiders, not full members of the political community'".

But several people walking into a football game Friday night at West High School in Knoxville weren't so convinced it's a violation of anyone's rights to have a prayer.

"I don't believe that it's unconstitutional. I believe that we're trying to read into it too hard, and make it something it's not," Chris Davis said.

Bob Whitaker said it shouldn't matter to others if people pray, especially if they are not religious.

"When we die...Are you ready to meet your maker? If you don't think there is a maker, what difference does it make to you?" Whitaker said.

The ACLU letter said its wish is to preserve the sanctity of everyone's religious freedom.

Join the Conversation!

To comment, the following rules must be followed:

  • No Obscenity, Profanity, Vulgarity, Racism or Violent Descriptions
  • No Negative Community Comparisons
  • No Fighting, Name-calling, or Personal Attacks
  • Multiple Accounts are Not Allowed
  • Stay on Story Topic

Comments may be monitored for inappropriate content, but the station is under no legal obligation to do so.
If you believe a comment violates the above rules, please use the Flagging Tool to alert a Moderator.
Flagging does not guarantee removal.

Multiple violations may result in account suspension.
Decisions to suspend or unsuspend accounts are made by Station Moderators.
Links require admin approval before posting.
Questions may be sent to Please provide detailed information.

powered by Disqus


6450 Papermill Drive Knoxville, TN 37919 Phone - (865) 450-8888; Fax - (865) 450-8869
Copyright © 2014 WVLT-TV Inc. - Designed by Gray Digital Media - Powered by Clickability 226545381 -
Gray Television, Inc.