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Mediation Next Step for Dispute Over School Prayer

Wednesday, January, 22, 2020

Both sides in the dispute over school prayer are headed to mediation in early 2020.  The intention is to resolve whether or not religious schools can broadcast prayers over loudspeakers during sporting events when they are playing public or non-religious schools.


The lawsuit was filed after the Florida High School Athletic Association refused to let prayers be broadcast over the loudspeaker during the 2015 Division 2A championship football game in Orlando.  Both of the schools playing in the game were Christian schools and each of them had requested permission to broadcast their pre-game prayer in the Citrus Bowl.  The practice was standard before each of the schools’ games throughout the regular season.


FHSAA said no.  The association is statutorily recognized by Florida as the official governing body of interscholastic sports throughout the state.


The lawsuit was filed the following September by the Cambridge Christian School of Tampa.  The school asked that the rule be overturned and claimed it has a right to freedom of speech and regarding the prayer and a right to free religion, both of which it claimed the association violated.


The school lost its case in 2017 when the District Court ruled that speech over the loudspeaker was government speech and the school’s right to freedom of religion was not violated because the association did not prevent the team from praying without the use of the loudspeaker.  That ruling was overturned in November 2019 by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals and the case was remanded back for a new trial.


The two sides have been given 30 days to meet and attempt mediation before the case will move forward.