Prayer at high school’s football games raises controversy

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WEAKLEY COUNTY, Tenn. — Westview High School students and parents are fighting to keep one of their long-standing traditions of praying before high school games alive after a complaint may put a stop to it. In the last nine years, Westview administrators estimate they’ve had around 45 home football games, and students have volunteered to pray before the majority of them.

Westview senior Erin Bell has been volunteering to pray before games since her freshman year of high school and prayed at the last game. She said she was pulled into the principal’s office Thursday morning with some upsetting news. “I was called into the office, and the principal just informed me that there was a complaint about the game and that I would no longer be allowed to do so,” Bell said. According to Principal Jeromy Davidson, the school received a complaint about the prayer after the last home game. But for many of the students, prayer has kept them close, not only in school but it unites them on the field as well. “It’s also good to know that other people are thinking about us and that they want God to watch over us and protect us, not just our team but the other teams as well,” senior football player Collin Stricklin said. The principal said he hasn’t decided if the tradition will continue. As many students fight for this right, others think a public prayer is offensive to those who don’t have the same beliefs. “If it’s a school-funded, school-sanctioned event and the school is sanctioned by the government and it’s funded by the government, then it shouldn’t establish a religious belief over a PA system,” said Lucas McClure, a Westview High School senior. The principal says they will have a decision in time for the next home game, which is in two weeks.

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