Parents organize to keep prayer before DeSoto football games - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Parents organize to keep prayer before DeSoto football games

(WMC-TV) - The debate over pre-game prayer at DeSoto County school football games continued Friday.

Public prayer at football games has been a tradition at Olive Branch High School for as long as parent Lisa Ransom can remember.

"And not just here in DeSoto County," Ransom said Friday. "I think football teams across America have traditionally done this.

Friday night the prayer from the stadium loudspeaker will be silenced, but Ransom says a letter of complaint from the Freedom From Religion Foundation won't silence the roar of the crowd.

"No PA - just a lot of people," she said.

DeSoto County Schools complied with the Freedom From Religion Foundation's request, despite the disappointment of many students and parents.

Before Friday's game, flyers with the words to the Lord's Prayer will be handed out to the crowd.

"When there's a few moments of silence on the PA system," Ransom said. "It won't be announced that we'll stand together and recite the Lord's Prayer in unity."

Parents and students with DeSoto County 4 Prayer will be wearing t-shirts with the Lord's Prayer on the back.

Early Friday morning, students and parents held a prayer walk outside the school.

As the sun began to set on DeSoto Central High School's campus, students took time out to pray.

"If they're saying that we can't pray over a loudspeaker, then we're going to pray alone," said student Paige Lewis.

Parents who oppose the prayer ban say they will continue their fight, and they consider the actions of Freedom From Religion Foundation to be a blessing in disguise.

"All they've done is increased the awareness, as Christians, of what we need to do to step it up and bring revival to DeSoto County," Ronnie Pollard said.

Parents say teammates traditionally take a knee and pray after the game. They say school officials are no longer allowed to initiate that but tonight their quarterback will.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation sent a second letter to school Superintendent Milton Kuykendall not only asking the district to stop praying before school events, but also to demand an apology for the comments the superintendent made in a letter sent out earlier this week.

In the letter, Kuykendall wrote, "In my opinion, most people do not realize that this organization out of Wisconsin doesn't really care if we have prayer in our schools.  They see an opportunity to try and accuse us of breaking the law and therefore give them a chance to sue our district and win a lawsuit and take millions of our funds.  This is money that is needed to pay teachers and educate our students."

"It hurts our reputation to have a public official saying we just complained to make money, nonetheless millions," said Annie Laurie Gaylor with Freedom From Religion Foundation.  "We never make any money on our litigation.  That's ridiculous."

Kuykendall did not wish to comment.

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