North Pike football fans may notice a change in the routine when the Jaguars host Purvis tonight. A prayer will not precede the contest.

The North Pike School District will no longer conduct group prayers at school-sanctioned events due in part to a Sept. 23 letter from the Madison, Wis.-based Freedom from Religion Foundation.

“We are writing to outline the current state of law regarding prayers at public schools, including athletic games and graduation ceremonies,” the letter reads.

The letter touts the organization’s success in ending prayers at Desoto County High School football games in August, and claims it is receiving continued complaints across the state and is concerned “that such violations may be commonplace in Mississippi.”

Additionally, the letter cites several Supreme Court cases to back up claims that “prayers at school-sponsored events are an unconstitutional endorsement of religion” and “voluntary attendance by students is no defense.”

“This country was founded in part on the need to keep religion and government separate,” the letter reads. “This principle is all the more important as our collective diversity grows. It is also paramount as parents are increasingly concerned about violence, bullying and hate crimes in public schools.”

The North Pike school board did not vote on the issue at Thursday’s meeting. Superintendent Dr. Ben Cox said the matter will be handled administratively, pending an opinion from Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood’s office.

“North Pike will suspend prayer at sporting events and other functions,” Cox said. “The school board doesn’t agree. Students, patrons and parents will still have the individual right to prayer.

“It’s not a violation of federal law to have prayer at an event as long as the school does not initiate it. We encourage our patrons to express that right of religious freedom.”

(21) comments

Anonymous Comment

this is the mail reason my child goes to North Pike. They law may stop them from doing it a certain times, but it will not stop. God bless North Pike and its leaders for standing up what they believe in...Love North Pike Jags!!!!

Anonymous Comment

Thats what is the matter with this country now, not enough prayer in our schools. A gov. who is changing our constitution, and too many other things to post here. our rights are being taken away one by one.GOD is in control of our daily lives, seek him and live a christen life, ST.MATTHEW chaphter 6 verse 7 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do, for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.

UtahJazzFan

So, Mr. Cox makes this decision on his own. Spineless, rubber kneed. That is what I say. When are the folks in this country gonna stand up quit takin it. I think this quote will appy from Martin Niemoller: "When the Nazis came for the communists,I remained silent;I was not a communist.When they locked up the social democrats,I remained silent;I was not a social democrat.When they came for the trade unionists,I did not speak out;I was not a trade unionist.When they came for the Jews,I remained silent;I wasn't a Jew.When they came for me,there was no one left to speak out. "(Edited by staff.)

Anonymous Comment

This is the most ridiculous accuse of a letter to remove the innocence of a prayer from our schools. I am so sick of our government saying God and prayer is unconstitutional! I can tell you somethings that are unconstitutional and it isn't God nor prayer. The sad part of this is God, prayer, and religion was and is this country's foundation. It is the rock of what are the U.S's principles and the constitution was written for. It so funny how a person is offended because of the name of God. Well i guess the "bible belt" as proud Mississippians love to call it, is now gonna let Madison, Wis tel them how to run our state. Well i don't agree!! If giving God the glory and praise threw prayer isn't done at the game, well North Pike isn't getting my money to watch the game! I don't support cowards Dr. Cox, to bad you bowed down! Oh and EJ it is my constitutional right to say this as FREEDOM OF SPEECH, will see if you post it!

Anonymous Comment

This is the problem with the world today. I dont see why we dont have a right to pray. The people who chose not to can stay seated. People who chose to have a right as well. This is why the world is having so much problem because we dont put value and respect towards other people. Ten to twenty years ago we didn't have all the problems we have today. This is why the world is going down. What a shame.

Anonymous Comment

What about the rights to the kids that want to pray.

Anonymous Comment

No where in the constitution does it say to seperate church and state. EJ do your research!! Freedom of speech and religion is ours not these yankees. Dr. Cox do your job! If they want to pray you nor them can stop it! This is our right and freedom. Someone needs to stand up to this mess and not let them push us around.

Anonymous Comment

If people want to pray, they have the right to attend and pray at a church of their choice. They also have the right to pray as they please in their own homes, in their small groups of friends, and silently in their own hearts. People also have the right to send their children to a privately-funded, religious-based school where prayers are spoken on a regular basis. And if we followed every single principle upon which our country was founded, we would still tolerate slavery and a host of other human rights' violations.

People often get caught up in emotion and express condemnation and anger when the very religion that they are defending promotes peace, humility, and faith. People still have the right to pray; and thousands of opportunities, especially those in each individual's heart and mind, to practice prayer still exist in America.

Anonymous Comment

Dr. Cox made this decision to protect the principal and even the students that had ben leading the prayers on Friday nights. This Freedom From Religion Foundation back a suit against Ponotoc School District and won a $200,000 judgement. That didnt stop other schools from praying so they threatened to sue any individual involved in the prayer, as individuals, including administrators, and principals. This could have caused financial ruin to these hard working dedicated school employees and othe individuals because this time they m,ay have sued for a million dollars to set an example.

-Jaguar Fan

Anonymous Comment

I'm glad Dr. Cox made this decision and if any of you had chosen to attend the North Pike game Friday night you would have seen the results. An effort started after the schoolboard meeting on Thursday night by North Pike patrons led to the vast majority of Jaguar and Purvis fans reciting the Lord's Prayer prior to the National Anthem at the game. This was a very moving experience and was more effective that the normal student led pregame prayer that many choose to ignore, This decision by Dr, Cox may have created the movement to send a message to organizations like this one and the ACLU that you can stop "school led" prayer but you cant stop prayer in schools. I would like to challenge other public schools in our area that stopped prayer at events years ago to follow North Pike's example and support fan/patron led prayer at school events.

Anonymous Comment

The Supreme Court ruled against a Galveston Texas school district 6-3 in a case involving student led prayer at football games. So, our local districts are in a no win situation if they continue to allow student led prayer and are sued as a result. I heard about North Pike's fans efforts to have a fan led prayer and they have found a way to continue prayer at events without the threat of a lawsuit beacuse everyone has the right to pray as individuals without repercussions . Kudos to the innovative Jaguar community.

-Christian

Anonymous Comment

first off, if you want your child to "pray" at school, you have to pay for it, this is a public school not a Christian academy. I attended North Pike and loved it but I must say that kids are voluntarily forced to agree to pray or at least act like it. These are issues that do not belong in a place of learning. If you want to pray as a student at anytime you are free to. Coaches and administration on the other hand, should not lead these "sessions" based on the fact that too much "peer pressure" is placed on the child. This school has a wonderful FCA program that allows Christian kids to come together and have devotion time. This is a voluntary club that does not effect your college prospects. What if I chose to be muslim and while you prayed I went over and kneeled before alah? North Pike would have a cow! Dr. Cox probably didn't make this decision alone the others are just afraid to step up for the legal federal law that is in place in fear of the same thing the children made to pray at school are. Community opinions, church preachers call you out or newspaper in mccomb paints you up like a religious zealot trying to demonize north pike... Haha -NPalumni06(Edited by staff.)

Anonymous Comment

According the the U.S. Constitution, the goverment will not enact any law respecting any one particular religion, nor should they be restricting it. The "Separation of Church and State" comes from a letter sent by Thomas Jefferson who authored the first amendment signed on Jan 1, 1802. "I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should "make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," thus building a wall of separation between Church & State."
This is not saying that a school can allow children to pray, but cannot, as a government entity, SANCTION any one particular religion. They must respect the fact that some people don't believe they way they do and not "force" their religion on them. That is the argument, and, even as a Christian, I agree with it.

Jesus never forced people into his religious beliefs (which were jewish, by the way). He did not worship himself, so he cannot be seen as being Christian.

However, no one can stop the PEOPLE if they are doing it themselves and exercising THEIR freedom of religion. It just can't be sanctioned by the school itself because it does not conform with the constitutional intention as written and envisioned by the author of the amendment that is applicable in this case. Some people may wish to pray, some may not. This is the SAME law that also supports the fact that churches pay no taxes. This law was also written because the King Charles of England was forcing people to be members of the Anglican Church, of which HE is the head.
Should we be forced to sit through a "hail mary" if we don't believe that we should pray to her? Sorry, but I don't think they should be sancitoning prayer. I DO however think that the prayer could be led by students or their parents, as long as they don't mind a "hail mary," a prayer to budda, a sikh prayer, or a shintoist prayer to be said as well. All should be respected, even if we disagree, that is an opportunity to witness, and, as the good book says, we are ALL children of God.

Anonymous Comment

The only problem I see with prayer in schools is its centered around christianity. By the way I am christian. But if a child is pagan, wiccan they are condemend for their beleif. A guidance counselor at a local school informed a distraught child that it was her fault that her friends could not be frinds with her so she should change religions. The child was Wiccan. IS THIS WHAT WE WANT TAUGHT IN OUR SCHOOLS? What if the counselor had been Budhist or Muslim and the child had been Christian?(Edited by staff.)

Phaedrus

Well, none of these comments surprises me. I guess I'll be the one "Devil's Advocate" here. Everyone here is entitled to their opinion (including me), but there seems to be a common misconception about the Establishment Clause that keeps getting regurgitated and worried over any time this subject comes up. The Constitutional prohibition against state-endorsed religion does NOT -- I repeat, does NOT -- impinge upon anybody's right to pray. Bow your heads and fold your hands all you want. Pray to Christ, or Allah, or Buddha, or Shiva, or Osiris, or Thor if you want. THAT'S what the First Amendment is there for. It protects your right to pray to whatever deity floats your boat. At the same time it protects my right to eschew prayer altogether if I choose. Look, a school prayer at a football game is small potatoes. I'll give you that. It's not exactly what I would call an insidious breach of the First Amendment. But ask yourselves this --- Would you still be supporting school-led prayer at a sports event if there was a chance that a Muslim faculty member would get on the microphone and lead you in a prayer to Allah?

I've never understood why some religious people (of all denominations) feel the need to have their personal religion thrust upon everybody else. Historically, whenever religion and government mix the first casualty is always personal liberty. Freedom OF religion must necessarily exist side by side with freedom FROM religion.

By the way --- Anonymous 7:59pm --- I'm not sure how you can claim that the Constitution does not provide for the separation of church and state. The First Amendment reads as follows: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

The separation of church and state is made clear in the very first phrase of that amendment. Any argument you have with the First Amendment as concerns school prayer could conceivably revolve around the statement "...or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..." But, as I've already pointed out, the government is NOT telling you that YOU can't pray. It's simply saying that the school, which is a public taxpayer-funded agency of the government, cannot initiate or lead the prayer.

Anonymous Comment

For all the people fussing...you should have been at the ballgame. It was the most beautiful thing in the world. The whole stadium said the Lords Prayer and it would have sent chills down your spine. I guarentee that you have not heard the end of this by NP Leaders. This is an AMAZING school that will not let prayer be stopped!!!

Anonymous Comment

To the commenters below I would point out that separation of church & state is indeed in the Constitution if you read and study it. (Most members of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State are ministers or like me from a family of ministers. It is really unAmerican and unmannerly and unChristian as well to have our public prayers at public school events when public schools and public venues is for ALL religions and for those who have no religions as well. If you are serious about praying you don't want to be like the Pharisees, doing it all publicly. Remember Jesus said that their public show is all they get. SHOW your behavior like the Bible says to do by emulating Christ. Showing your public prayers tells me you are all hat, no cattle in Christianity and not really praying to a Christian god but trying to show what a religious bigshot you are. We'd have better behaving children than are around if more of you spent your time guiding your children instead of teaching them how to use and abuse religion to be mean to others.

-Grew up a preacher's kid

Anonymous Comment

Since the games are played on Friday, the Muslim holy day, would it be o.k. if us Muslims come to North Pike and lead the prayers? We will call Mr. Cox next week to try to make it happen.

Anonymous Comment

I may have a soluntion. What if before the game there is just a pause, or time of silence, and then if anyone wants to pray, even out loud, they would be perfectly within their rights.

Anonymous Comment

I was at the "Game " Friday night and I have never been more proud of a community then I was when "We the People" recited the Lords Prayer. I think sometimes we have forgotten, why our forefathers came to this great nation and why they sacrificed so much to live in a "Christian Nation" with Liberty and Freedom that we have enjoyed in years past, that are being attacked today by people who are against what our country was founded upon, which is Freedom of Religion,not Freedom from Religion. May I suggest if you want Freedom from Religion move to another country !! For you to understand how our forefathers lived and died and fought, as well as gave so much for may I please get you to go to You Tube and type in david barton tour of capital, I content that you will be amazed as you will learn real history of what our forefathers did who were our leaders. I am so glad that they had the intestinal fortitude to stand up for their beliefs against unbelievable pressure. North Pike I salute you for drawing a line in the sand and saying UNITED WE STAND. Before you respond to this, you owe it to yourself to watch the youtube of David Barton that is suggested .

-Anonymous

Anonymous Comment

The pregame prayers that have been prayed for years have been pretty generic. A student has addressed the crowd and prayed for good sportsmanship, that no players be injured, and that all the fans have a safe trip home. They weren't trying to "establish a religion" as is protected against in the constitution and were not trying to force their religious beliefs on unsuspecting fans at the football games. The Freedom From Religion Foundation opened this can of worms and I hope they like the contents.

-jaguar fan

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