As high school football teams around the country suit up for the coming fall season, June's Supreme Court ruling banning students from offering prayers on a public-address system at sports events has put some coaches and players in piously subversive mood. At least one Texas school district with a locker-room tradition of prayer has no plans to end it: "We circle up and have the Lord's Prayer before every football game," says Dewayne Sexton, Abernathy High School head football coach and athletic director. He believes players would balk at being told not to pray. "We enjoy it and feel good about it. That's what we do."Nor does the coach plan to toss the team's tradition of saying grace before meals on the road. "I'm sure the [American] Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) would probably view that as unfavorable because I'm a public school employee, but I think I'd be a whole lot more remiss in what I do if I didn't," Sexton says. "I imagine probably 99 percent or more of [Texas] football coaches do the very same thing."The independent school district in Abernathy, 25 miles north of Lubbock, anticipated the ruling. The district ended the public prayers last year on its attorney's advice because ACLU members "said that they were going to seek out and file lawsuits against anybody" allowing public prayers, Sexton says."Then we'd be embroiled in a suit spending taxpayers' money on something that we obviously weren't going to win."The June 19 ruling struck down Texas' Santa Fe Independent School District's policy that allowed an elected student representative to pray over the loudspeaker before football games.In writing for the 6-3 majority, Justice John Paul Stevens rejected arguments that the student elected to pray was covered by First ...1
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