Lee stadium won't feature official prayer - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Lee stadium won't feature official prayer

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By Jennifer Emert - bio | email 

Leesburg, GA (WALB) –  Prayer before Lee County High School football games has been silenced after someone complained to the school system. 

Local ministers offered prayers over the stadium's public address system before two home games this year, but that violates the Georgia High School Association's rules, so the school will stop.

That's not sitting well with some Christians who say one person's complaint shouldn't affect the masses.

The stands are empty now, but you can bet Friday night they'll be filled, mostly with God fearing fans and while they won't hear a prayer over the PA system, they might hear one out loud from the person sitting next to them.

It's only mid week, but preparations are already underway at Trojan Field for Friday night's game with one big difference. There will be no announced prayer.

"The issues was raised that we're out of compliance with the law and we're going to be in compliance with the law," said Dr. Larry Walter, Lee County School Superintendent.

As fans wait for points to rack up on the score board instead of the prayer as players prepare to take the field they'll hear just a moment of silence.

"We will be observing a moment of silence prior to each of our games for the rest of the season," Walter said.

Football fans don't understand what the fuss is about. "I think at the football game they need to have prayer, because it will give the kids more, give them something to root for to play for," said Willie Qualls.

"I don't think there's anything wrong with prayer at all I think that might start to game off on a positive attitude," Daisy McBryde said.

The Georgia High School Association's rules are specific and state The school's equipment, public address system or scoreboard cannot be used to facilitate or promote religious activity, but Christians won't be silenced.

"One person or one small group can make a complaint about something as precious as prayer and that stops it in its tracks," said Kelly Turner.

So they've started a Facebook campaign for people to speak out. "On Facebook, it has been asked that during that moment of silence the Lords prayer is recited out loud by the Christians there."

Some are adamant come Friday night their payer will be heard. "If I'm there will I say the Lord's Prayer out loud, yes I will," said Turner.

School officials say if people recite the prayer aloud there's nothing they can do to stop them, and it's in their rights to do so, the school system itself just can't lead the prayer.

Lee County has played four homes games this year, but the Superintendent says prayers were only made at two of the games. Friday night's game begins at 7:30 at Trojan Field.

The United States Supreme Court ruled prayer in schools unconstitutional in 1962. Public schools may not sponsor, supervise, conduct, or encourage any student to lead, conduct, or recite bible readings, religious invocations or other religious ceremonies in any school activity.

Georgia has a provision that allows for a brief period of quiet reflection, up to 60 seconds.

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