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A man says a prayer after a high school football game violated his Constitutional rights



High school football is over, but a prayer before a Tennessee high school's game last October is sparking controversy.

A public Facebook video shows a student leading an invocation over the loud speaker before a Bradley Central football game.

"I pray for their safety and great sportsmanship," said the student in the video. "And Lord I want to thank you for everyone getting here safe tonight."

A person has since submitted a complaint about the prayer against Bradley Central High School through the Freedom From Religion Foundation, according to our affiliate WTVC. Both that person and the foundation claimed the prayer before the high school football game violated the Constitution.

The person who made the complaint about that prayer won't talk to Fox 17 News's affiliate WTVC on camera and doesn't want to be identified because they're employed by the Bradley County School District. They told WTVC through email, "Bradley County Schools continue to flagrantly disregard the law."

In response to the complaint on Sunday, current students a Bradley Central graduate organized a prayer walk and service at the high school. They've held events like it before, but leaders say it was important to show solidarity with the recent complaint.

"I feel like students on school property should have freedom of speech," said Cade Baker, prayer service organizer and a 2017 Bradley Central High School graduate.

The Freedom from Religion Foundation sent the official complaint to the Bradley County Schools attorney. It cites a United States Supreme Court decision from 2000, Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe. The court ruled student-led prayer at football games was unconstitutional, saying it violated the establishment clause of the first amendment.

"We're not angry," said Baker. "We're not protesting. We just wanted to come together as believers and support one another and love each other during this time."

Senior CJ Beck helped Baker organize the prayer Sunday.

"We pray pretty much before every game in every sport," Beck said.

She said praying before her softball games improves her performance.

"It really helps me during the games and pumps me up to be able to keep pushing forwards," Beck said.

At the service, dozens of people, including adults and students, held hands and bowed their heads. Beck said everyone has their right to an opinion about the constitutionality of praying before games. She ended the event Sunday by leading the circle in prayer.

The Director of Bradley County Schools was not reachable for comment on the complaint Sunday, according to the director's secretary.

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