Ashdown, Ark. students fight back with prayer - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Ashdown, Ark. students fight back with prayer


The Freedom From Religion Foundation, based out of Wisconsin, has once again turned its attention to the ArkLaTex. This time, to Ashdown, Arkansas.

The group claims the school district is breaking the law during school sponsored athletic events and is demanding the district to change.

On Friday, Oct. 2, the Ashdown Panthers defeated Bauxite 53-13. But for many attending the game, the victory came before the opening kickoff.

Students and fans from both schools, including referees, knelt on the field for prayer.

Earlier this month, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, notified school administrators that the district was in violation of the constitution by praying before football games.

"We are not going to stop any student who wants to exercise their freedom of religious expression such as a prayer," explained Ashdown School Superintendent Jason Sanders.

Sanders said in the past, people working the press box would offer prayer, but this past Friday, a representative of a student group did the honors.

"As for the situation Friday night, I think that is a great example of student freedom and the rights of students to express themselves religiously and the government not get involved and keep them from doing that," said Sanders.

Pat and Susy Dillenger live across the street from Ashdown High School and say they are avid Panther fans. For them, the idea of stopping prayer at school athletic events is inconceivable.

"Always had prayer at every game. You know, it's terrible when somebody can come from way up north to tell you what you can do down here at your school," said the Dillengers.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation said a complaint from a student prompted the letter.

"I believe we should keep praying. If they don't want to listen, they can just leave," said Ashdown resident Gerald McElhenon.

"We need to keep God and we need to keep prayer in our children's lives," said another resident.

Sanders said if the Freedom From Religion Foundation decides to take further legal action, he is confident the Ashdown School District will remain victorious.

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