A Tennessee high school football team wowed the internet last week when they defied county orders by leading fans in a postgame prayer.
Last week, district employees in Putnam County, Tennessee, were ordered not to lead students in prayer, which prompted outrage from the community.
“The case law not allowing prayer or proselytizing is clear. Courts have consistently ruled that prayer and proselytizing can not be sponsored by schools or school personnel,” a Putnam County Schools spokesman told WZTV-TV in Nashville.
The rule extended to staffers, teachers, and even coaches, according to Western Journal.
What a shot. Student-led prayer in Putnam County, TN. https://t.co/JOAVnWOTmD
— Jennifer Waddell (@JenniferWFox17) September 20, 2021
“As a district, we absolutely understand the importance of prayer in the lives of our students, faculty, and staff members,” the spokesperson elaborated. “We support the right of students to participate in and lead spontaneous prayers. That right is and will continue to be protected.
“We also understand that faculty and staff members can not lead or participate in the spontaneous student-led prayers,” they added.
The school district was responding to complaints from Americans United for Separation of Church and State, who lamented that “there were several instances of prayer and proselytizing at events at Cookeville and Upperman high schools.”
Parents retaliated against the decision by organizing a postgame prayer at Upperman High School’s game against Stone Memorial High School on Friday night.
Wonderful to see, Amen 🙏.
— Schwindt (@rodandlisa) September 20, 2021
“After the game, players and cheerleaders that choose to will be on the field praying on their own. A group of parents will be going out on the field to support them. We will join hands and encircle them from a distance as a sign of protection and solidarity in choosing to continue to pray,” parent Dustin Whitefield told WZTV.
As advertised, on Friday night, after Upperman High School defeated Stoneman in a 27-9 victory, parents, players, and fans joined on the field for a postgame prayer in defiance of district overlords. As photos of the event spread on social media, the defiant gesture instantly became an inspirational rallying cry for religious Americans across the country.
Glory to God!!
— Stormy Mitchell (@stormywakm) September 20, 2021