ACLU sends letters to Tennessee school superintendents about pre-football game prayer
The American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee today sent letters to school superintendents across the state, responding to recent reports of school-sponsored prayer in numerous public school football programs.
The letter provides information on the First Amendment's requirement that public schools refrain from endorsement of religion.
READ MORE | The ACLU letter sent to Tennessee school superintendents
"Our experience is that many public school administrators and educators struggle with how the constitutional guarantees of religious freedom apply to prayer during their school-sponsored events," said Hedy Weinberg, ACLU-TN's executive director.
"Our goal is to make sure that school systems statewide understand these First Amendment guarantees and commit to protecting religious freedom for all students, including athletes, and for their families who attend the games."
The ACLU-TN letter goes on to explain that the United States Supreme Court opinion held in Lee v. Weisman that school faculty, coaches, administrators and invited clergy may not lead students in prayer or conduct a prayer during a school event.
In another case, the specific practice of prayer at public school football games, the Supreme Court established in Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe that a Texas school district policy permitting its student body to vote at the beginning of each school year whether or not to have prayers before football games also violates the Establishment Clause.
The ACLU-TN's Weinberg urged school superintendents to share the letter with principals and to contact ACLU-TN with any questions they may have.
ACLU-TN can be reached at (615) 320-7142 or online.