Sometimes it seems like federal law is a solution desperately in search of a problem, when no one wins and everyone loses because the parties are really on the same side.

This is the case in Florida as two private Christian high schools are both victimized by an overly restrictive reading of “federal guidelines and precedent court cases” by the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA).

When Cambridge Christian and University Christian high schools were set to compete in the state football championship last year, students at each school agreed to continue a long-standing tradition to pray together before the game.

Although the FHSAA acknowledged both schools are private and religious-affiliated institutions,” it claimed federal law prevent it from granting the teams’ request to use the stadium PA system, saying the use of state assets for religious speech was “off limits.”

FHSAA Director Roger Dearing laid out the rationale for denying the players’ their right to pray, saying, “… the facility is predominantly paid for with public tax dollars; second, under Florida Statutes, the FHSAA – the host and coordinator of the event – is legally a ‘State Actor,’ so we cannot legally permit or grant permission for such an activity.”

Now, Cambridge Christian School has filed a federal lawsuit against the FHSAA for violating the players’ religious freedoms under both the federal and Florida constitutions, as well as the Florida Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

The teams gathered for prayer on the field, but students, families and friends were unable to hear.

“By denying access to the loudspeaker, the FHSAA denied the students, parents, and fans in attendance the right to participate in the players’ prayer or to otherwise come together in prayer as one Christian community,” the lawsuit states.

In other words, the students and teachers from two Christian schools and parents who send their children to those schools were protected from being offended by a Christian prayer agreed to by the players of both teams before a football game.

Perfect interpretation of a federal rule.

 

 

 

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