Florida Education Department Says High School Athletic Association’s Decision to Ban Prayer at Football Games ‘Deeply Troubling’

Florida’s Department of Education has expressed their support for two Christian high schools who were barred from having a prayer given via loudspeaker at a football game held at the Citrus Bowl Stadium.

Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran sent a letter to the Florida High School Athletic Association last Friday, denouncing the decision to prohibit the prayer as “deeply troubling.”

The letter, a copy of which was emailed to The Christian Post on Monday, called on the Association to review “its policies and procedures to ensure religious expression is permitted to the greatest extent possible under the law.”

“Policies that are overbroad or restrictive may deny students their constitutional right to private religious expression,” wrote Corcoran. “Such policies must be immediately repealed and replaced with policies that are consistent with the religious freedoms guaranteed under the Constitution.”

Regarding the denial of the request by Cambridge Christian School of Tampa and University Christian School of Jacksonville to have a prayer delivered over the Citrus Bowl loudspeaker, Corcoran commented that he did “not understand why this request was denied.”

“The state must not censor private religious speech of its students, even [when] that speech is given at a state-sponsored event or on public property,” continued Corcoran.

In December 2015, Cambridge Christian and University Christian were ordered by the Association to not give a prayer over a loudspeaker at 2A state championship game.

Roger Dearing, the head of the FHSAA at the time, told the schools that the Citrus Bowl “is a public facility, predominantly paid for with public tax dollars,” and thus was “’off limits’ under federal guidelines and precedent court cases.”

“In Florida Statutes, the FHSAA (host and coordinator of the event) is legally a ‘State Actor,’ we cannot legally permit or grant permission for such an activity,” stated Dearing, as reported by First Coast News.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Michael Gryboski