An atheist organization is trying to prevent prayers before football games at an Alabama high school after a resident filed a complaint saying the prayers invoked Jesus.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation contends that the Lauderdale County school district has violated the First Amendment by letting the prayers take place.
“It is coercive and inappropriate to ask students to listen while a prayer is delivered at athletic events,” Freedom From Religion Foundation staff attorney Stephanie Schmitt said in a news release Monday.
“This is especially disturbing given the young age of these students,” she added.
The initial complaint was filed by a resident opposed to prayers prior to football games at the Brooks High School.
Jeremy Green said in an email to the Times Daily Newspaper that he was standing up for the “separation of church and state in an effort to protect the constitutional rights of the non-religious.”
“It is illegal for any public school to organize, sponsor or lead prayer at public athletic events,” said Green.
The school superintendent, Bill Valentine, told Fox News that he had received the complaint.
“We’ve referred that complaint to our attorney and we are in the process of reviewing it,” he said.
Valentine also said he cannot recall ever receiving a complaint regarding the prayers and that a decision has not been made about whether prayers would take place before this Friday's game.
The complaints have not been well received in the community.
"It's just somebody, it's a few trying to control the mass, it's a very few people that are trying to dictate what everyone else does," one mother told WAFF 48 News.
"We want to bless our players, we want to protect our players, our band members, our fans, we want their safety and we plan on praying for that safety at the beginning of each ball game," she added.
The Freedom For Religion Foundation made a similar complaint to a school in Arab, Ala. As a result, the school chose to end prayers before events.