Catholic School Told Not to Pray During Postseason Games

Shanley High School is told to no longer have prayers during postseason games.

A photo sparked controversy on Facebook early this week.

The photo shows football players from Shiloh Christian High School in Bismarck are kneeling in prayer.

The North Dakota High School Activities Association says that a prayer can’t be delivered over the public address system at a post season game.

“The association or that state of North Dakota does not have to police the pregame prayers or alike at Christian or Catholic schools,” says Shanley High’s attorney, Peter Breen.

Shanley High School, a catholic private school, never had problem praying before a game.

NDHSAA’s position is that prayers are prohibited before a game.

The agency cites a Supreme Court decision from 2000, Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe.

“I think it’s infringing on private schools rights to make those decisions. I think that if they were going to challenge that decision, they could do it with a little input from people who actually choose to send their children here,” says parent, Maria Hennen.

A private school with religious identity is not  considered to be characterized with the state.

However with the football team playing in the playoffs, games are sponsored by the association.

Since the private school will be playing a game sponsored by the activities association, praying will be banned.

Breen says they’ve sent NDHSAA a request about Saturday’s pregame prayer.

“This weekend suspend the prayer policy and allow Shanley High School to engage in the prayers they usually do and then in the off–season let’s look at this policy,” says Breen.

The NDHSAA released a statement on the controversy:

“Because this request involves an issue of constitutional law, it has been forwarded to NDHSAA Legal Counsel for review.  The NDHSAA is taking the request seriously and anticipates a response as soon as possible”

Shanley High School declined to comment on the matter.

Shanley hosts Central Cass High Saturday at 1 PM.

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