Missouri high school football coach, team under fire for ‘illegal’ prayer after complaint from atheist group
MISSOURI - A Missouri school district is investigating whether a post-game prayer held by high school football players and coaches is "illegal."
The Freedom From Religion Foundation sent a letter to the Cameron School District in late October accusing head coach Jeff Wallace and assistant coach David Stucky of proselytizing the players for holding post-game prayer at the 50-yard line -- something the opposing teams have also participated in voluntarily -- but the group demands the prayer be stopped.
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"We ask that the district commence an investigation into the complaints alleged and take immediate action to stop any and all school-sponsored prayers or religious worship..." FFRF attorney Christopher Line wrote, adding the district should inform them of how they will "remedy this serious and flagrant violation of the First Amendment."
Superintendent Dr. Matt Robinson responded to the Wisconsin-based group's complaint, adding that the district has never received a complaint from anyone in the community.
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"As outlined in District policy, the Cameron R-I School District does not endorse religion," Robinson told Fox News. "The District is currently investigating the concerns raised in the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s letter to the District, pursuant to the District’s non-discrimination policy and policy regarding religious expression, to determine whether District policy has been violated. The District takes concerns of violations of policy seriously, and will take action with regard to any findings from this investigation as appropriate."
Jeremy Dys, special counsel for litigation and communications at First Liberty Institute, sent a letter countering FFRF's complaint. He told Fox News that unless FFRF actually has someone complaining, the district should just ignore the letter because it has no legal basis in court.
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“This letter is little more than a noisy, public complaint meant to harass and embarrass Americans just trying to live their lives," Dys said. "Unless someone presents a plaintiff with actual legal standing, school officials should ignore these letters. No one should reward efforts to gin up controversy where none exists.”
Many in the community of Cameron seem to agree, including resident Tim Harell, the pastor at Crossroads Assembly of God, whose son played for the team.
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“We have a lot of trouble with young people these days, and I think anything we can do positive, instead of negative, will influence and help our young people,” Harrell told FOX 4. “I think people are going to support and stand by the values of this community.”