The University of Tennessee will continue its longstanding tradition of praying before football games, despite pressure from the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) to stop the practice.
For many years, thousands of football fans in UT’s Neyland Stadium have stood and observed a time of prayer before the game started. But the FFRF now says that the pre-game prayer is offensive to people of other religions and non-religious people.
In a cease-and-desist letter the university, FFRF co-president Annie Gaylor wrote, “This is a public university, not a Christian club. When you’re not religious or are of another faith and you get prayed at during events, it’s really very grating.”
UT chancellor Jimmy Cheek says that university has the right to pray according to the U.S. Constitution. He also noted a court decision from the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals that ruled “nonsectarian prayer at public university events does not violate the First Amendment.”
Republican state representative Kevin Brooks said, “I am so thankful that Tennesseans are going to stand up and say this is the Volunteer State and voluntarily we’re going to keep praying.”
Publication date: September 23, 2014