Organization threatens local schools with lawsuit over football - - The News for South Mississippi

Organization threatens local schools with lawsuit over football prayers

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A display in the office of J.D Simpson, Executive Director of First Priority in Oak Grove A display in the office of J.D Simpson, Executive Director of First Priority in Oak Grove


An organization opposed to school prayer has issued a warning to local schools, and local churches are planning to retaliate.

The Freedom from Religion Foundation has issued a warning to the Mississippi's 151 school superintendents not to allow prayer to take place over the intercom during football games or those schools will will be sued.

Pine Belt-area pastors are calling for members of their churches to organize and pray at the games.

J.D Simpson, Executive Director of First Priority, a Christian-based organization for students in schools, said Friday that organized prayer in school is against the law, but everyone still has freedom of speech.

"You can take away the microphone, but you can't take away our mouth. We still have the freedom of speech," said Simpson.

Several school districts have announced that instead of official, school-sponsored prayer there will be a moment of silence before Friday's games. Jim Burnett, Senior Pastor at Willow Pointe Church in Oak Grove, along with several other pastors have told their congregations to recite the Lord's Prayer during that time.

Burnett said, "Simply be led by God; if you feel led to pray at that time, pray for the athletes, their safety, and for our country."

"It's very unsettling for society to make such threats and push God out of what He created," said Burnett. "We are running a spiritual fever. We are sick. We are just morally getting farther and farther away from were we started."

Jeff Floyd, Pastor of Calvary Baptist Church, said he agrees.

Floyd said, "I think it is wrong for any group to come in and threaten to sue an individual when all they are doing is exercising their First Amendment Rights."

The Freedom from Religion Foundation is a non-profit organization with about 16,000 members. In the letter, they urged all school superintendents in Mississippi to ensure their districts follow the law.

The Supreme Court of The United States ruled in 2000 that pre-game prayer over the intercom, even when lead by a student, was unconstitutional.

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