A federal judge has sided with the Florida High School Athletic Association in a dispute about whether a Christian school should have been allowed to offer a prayer over a stadium loudspeaker before a football championship game.
U.S. District Judge Charlene Edwards Honeywell on Wednesday rejected arguments by Tampa’s Cambridge Christian School that the association — which governs high-school sports in the state — had violated free-speech and other constitutional rights by not allowing a prayer over the loudspeaker in 2015 at Camping World Stadium in Orlando.
Honeywell, upholding a recommendation from a magistrate judge, said the association has procedures that include allowing a designated public-address announcer to use the loudspeaker for approved announcements. She wrote that it is “clear that if the prayer was offered by the public-address announcer, this would be viewed as an endorsement by the state, which would be impermissible.”
“Cambridge Christian argues that it never requested the public address announcer to give the prayer, but that it instead sought access to the loudspeaker so that a representative of either school could pray over the loudspeaker.” Honeywell wrote. “This, however, amounts to a request that the FHSAA open its loudspeaker, which otherwise is not accessible to private parties, to allow for prayer to be broadcast during a government controlled and hosted event. This would likewise be perceived as state endorsement of Cambridge Christian’s religious message.”
SOURCE: Jim Saunders
The News Service of Florida