Another high school has pulled back from hosting pregame prayers following a complaint filed by the not-for-profit Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF).
As reported by Youngstown, Ohio NBC affiliate WFMJ, West Branch (Ohio) High has voluntarily withdrawn from a longstanding tradition of hosting prayers across the in-arena or stadium broadcast system before football and boys basketball games after the practice was brought to the attention of Madison, Wisconsin-based FFRF, which immediately filed a formal legal complaint.
West Branch unilaterally stopped the prayers following legal advice from the district’s legal counsel, despite aggressive posturing from West Branch Superintendent Tim Saxton.
“It’s not a matter of whether we truly care what this foundation thinks, it’s making sure we apply the correct legal status to make sure we do what we are supposed to do in terms of the law,” Saxton told WFMJ.
Yet Saxton didn’t end there, apparently. WFMJ reported that the superintendent told them he hoped prayer before games would resume once legal investigations are completed. Given that there is a very longstanding precedent established that such religious actions at a school event are unconstitutional, Saxton’s very comments lie somewhere between controversial and outright rebellious.
Not that such concerns matter to Saxton or West Branch fans who are clearly upset at the loss of a treasured pastime … whether it is legal or not.