Controversy Over Prayers at Football Games

October 25, 2000

Source: The Times Picayune

On October 25, 2000, The Times Picayune reported that "school-sanctioned student-led prayers at public school football games, a practice ruled unconstitutional nationwide this year by the U.S. Supreme Court, have led to a parent's complaint against Natchitoches Parish schools. A letter from the Louisiana chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union asks the school district to stop the practice within 10 days or face a lawsuit. Through a spokeswoman, Superintendent Elwanda Murphy said: 'We will abide by the law.'

"'The Supreme Court has clearly indicated that it will scrutinize the history and substance -- and just not the form -- of whatever policy the school chooses to defend,' the ACLU letter said. 'In other words, you can claim with a nod and a wink that your policy doesn't coerce or endorse, but the court is unlikely to wink back.' The ACLU said the complaint was filed by a parent after student-led prayers at two football games Sept. 29 and Oct. 13. Joe Cook, executive director of the Louisiana ACLU, said there have been reports of other student-led prayers at football games this fall in Louisiana."