Lawsuit filed over school orders that students not pray together

The American Center for Law and Justice has confirmed it has filed a federal lawsuit over a school’s orders that students not gather together for prayer.

In fact, one coach threatened track team members, “Don’t let me see you do that again” after they gathered before a track meet for prayer, the ACLJ said, describing it as a “blatant violation of students’ First Amendment rights.”

“While you would hope that this would be a clear mistake on the part of the coach – one immediately corrected by school officials – it was not,” the legal team said of the actions by the Indiana school district.

“Even after reporting the incident to the school administration, the matter remains unresolved. The students were subsequently instructed that they must not be seen praying together as a group and that they could only engage in a moment of ‘reflection’ alone or in small groups of two or three,” the ACLJ said.

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Stunningly, “The girls have been instructed not to give the appearance that they are praying at any time before, during, or after track meets.”

The school, the ACLJ said, ignored a demand letter dispatched to the superintendent insisting that the ongoing constitutional violations be stopped.

“The First Amendment undisputedly protects students’ right to pray or engage in other religious speech or activities before, during, or after school and at school events, including sporting events,” it explains.

It said, “the Supreme Court explained more than 50 years ago in Tinker v. Des Moines Independent School District, 393 U.S. 503, 506 (1969), students do not ‘shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.’ Indeed, ‘[t]he vigilant protection of constitutional freedoms is nowhere more vital than in the community of American schools.'”

The Supreme Court’s decision wasn’t vague. It said, “When [a student] is in the cafeteria, or on the playing field, or on the campus during the authorized hours, he may express his opinions . . . .”

“Students have the right to pray, discuss religious beliefs, and even share religious materials with their peers between classes, at break, at lunch, and before and after school. School interference with these rights is not appropriate unless such actions would cause a material and substantial disruption of school discipline,” the legal team said.

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