A Michigan high school football team has been barred from praying for the sick daughter of its head coach for fear of violating separation of church and state regulations.
As reported by North Michigan news network 9and10news.com, the Lake City football team — currently ranked No. 4 in the Detroit Free Press Division 6 top-10 — has spent recent weeks praying on the field for the ailing 4-year-old daughter of coach Kyle Smith. That all came to a halt after the team posted a video of their “family circle” of prayer to their Facebook page.
That alerted the not-for-profit Michigan Association of Civil Rights Activists, which informed the football program that it was promoting a religious prayer service at a public school by sharing the videos on social media.
That has led to an informal cease and desist on the part of the Lake City program, though not without consternation; while the school initially refused to remove the videos in question, it eventually complied, per 9and10news.com.
While the Michigan Association of Civil Rights Activists has been quick to assure Lake City officials and fans that there will be no constraints on their ability to fundraise for the Smith family — “I don’t think anybody has been impeded at all in whatever they wish to do to support this family,” MACRA co-founder Mitch Kahle told 9and10news — that wasn’t enough to cool the disappointment of Lake City fans and students.
“Nobody was forced, it was planned by students and parents it was just a great show of support for the family,” Lacie Henjal told 9and10news.com. “Yes a pastor offered prayer, but it was never advertised as a prayer event it was a family circle coming to support Kyle, Harper, Linda and Hudson. It bothers me that someone that’s not from our community is trying to silence us.”
It’s important to note that the complaint from MACRA was not about the student athletes holding a prayer vigil, but that they held it on school property and then promoted it after the fact on school-affiliated social media accounts.
For now, no further prayer circle promotions have been announced, though a group of supporters of the Smith family is holding a fundraising spaghetti dinner on Sunday. There’s been no word on whether there will be any pre-meal prayer involved.