Texas football-prayer supporters
defy court ban
By The Associated Press
HOUSTON — As school boards across
Texas struggle with a federal ruling outlawing prayers before high school
football games, some students are taking things into their own hands.
In Stephenville, a group of 15 students
led an unauthorized prayer on Aug. 27 over a portable address system smuggled
into the high school stadium. Fans gathered for a game against Weatherford
stood and bowed their heads.
"This was not about football, it
was about God," student Alan Ward told the Stephenville Empire-Tribune.
"We decided to pray for God."
Superintendent Larry Butler said
the students did not have the district's permission and he does not believe
the school district, located 60 miles southwest of Fort Worth, could be
held liable for a spontaneous act.
"With that being said, I applaud
them for doing something that they feel really strongly about," he said.
"I think the entire community of Stephenville believes in school prayer."
In Andrews, 20 miles northwest of
Odessa, trustees have decided to continue student-led prayer at football
games — at least until a lawsuit is filed.
"If somebody says, 'Hey, you're
violating my rights,' then I guess we'll have to stop," Andrews superintedent
Pete Francis told the Odessa American. "It is the feeling of our community
that the community wants it."
The U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals
ruled in February that limited student-initiated prayer is appropriate
at commencements but not at less-solemn, informal events such as football
Widespread defiance of the court's
ruling suggests that the issue could become a "flashpoint" in the larger
debate over separation of church and state, legal analysts say.
"The average American doesn't follow
what the courts are saying about things. It doesn't seem very relevant
to what most of us do during our day-to-day lives," said Teresa Collett,
a South Texas College of Law professor and an expert on church-state relations.
for entire article