In a decision that is sure to incite passions on both sides of the debate over religion in schools, a high school in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. officially outlawed postgame prayer in response to a formal complaint about violation of separation of church and state that was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union. According to the Oakland Press, the case in question focuses on Bloomfield Hills (Mich.) Lahser High, where the school’s football team led traditional post-game prayers at midfield, allowing members of its team and opponents to take part in the tradition of offering thanks for another game completed.
The Tebowing comes in when one considers the position players take when involved in such prayers, standing on one knee with head bowed (which, of course, was the motivation behind Tebow’s original craze-inducing pose in the first place). Tebow, of course, is a devout Christian who has made a point of dedicating all of his accomplishments to the big man that Christians believe in upstairs.
According to the Press, school officials immediately said that they would conform to the ACLU’s proposed guidelines and would not hold any postgame prayer sessions on school property. At the same time, Lahser officials insisted that they had never intended any student to feel uncomfortable because of the prayer sessions, which allegedly began more than a decade ago at the behest of a student athlete.
“It kind of just carried on,” Lahser football coach Dan Loria told the Press. “It was something that somebody wanted to do every year. I got caught up because of how it originated and I lost sight of it.”
In contrast with the original complaint made to the ACLU, which claimed that Loria had been leading players in the prayer sessions, the coach and senior officials insisted that he was only present at the sessions.
Nonetheless, Loria acknowledged responsibility for the religious transgressions because of his knowing presence, and made it clear that the practice would be stopped before any other athletes were left uncomfortable in future seasons.
“When it comes to discipline, whatever you allow, you encourage,” he said. “By me being present, I was encouraging it. This happened because of me and I had to wake up.”
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- American Football
- Sports & Recreation
- American Civil Liberties Union
- Oakland Press