Oklahoma School District Bans Prayer at Baseball Games, Atheist Group Claims Success

A Wisconsin-based atheist organization is claiming success after an Oklahoma public school district agreed to bar coach-led prayers at baseball games.

Owasso School District responded to a letter of concern sent by the Freedom From Religion Foundation regarding reports of pre-game prayers being held by a baseball team head coach.

In a letter sent out last Thursday, Owasso District representative J. Douglas Mann assured the FFRF that no such coach-led pre-game prayers will be allowed.

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"I have been directed by Superintendent Ogilvie to advise that the Owasso School District will not allow any district employees to participate with any district students in any prayer or other religious activities in connection with any school-sponsored events," wrote Mann.

Late last month the FFRF sent a letter to Owasso Public Schools Superintendent Clark Ogilvie regarding reports of pre-game prayers being led by a head coach for a baseball team.

Of specific concern were the alleged actions of Owasso High School's baseball coach Larry Turner, as well as other assistant coaches leading prayers for the team.

Andrew Seidel, staff attorney with the FFRF, wrote the letter asking the school district to investigate the matter.

"We ask that the school district commence an immediate investigation into the complaints alleged and take immediate action to stop all school-sponsored prayers occurring at any district events," said Seidel.

"We ask that you inform us promptly in writing of the steps the district takes to remedy this serious violation of the First Amendment."

In the response, Mann wrote to the FFRF stating that he hoped his three paragraph reply "is fully responsive to your April 28 letter."

This is not the first time the FFRF has written Owasso's superintendent regarding a concern about church and state separation, according to the Wisconsin atheist group.

"Superintendent Ogilvie also responded promptly and positively to a 2011 FFRF complaint about a school bus driver displaying a Christian cross in the bus," noted the FFRF in a press release.

"The school told FFRF Staff Attorney Patrick Elliott three days after getting the complaint that the cross wouldn't be displayed again."

Zach Duffield, athletic director for Owasso, told local media that the allegations brought forth by the FFRF held no merit.

"There is no coach lead, I can tell you that with 100 percent confidence," said Duffield to KOTV, adding that "I know we do things the right way. We're very proud of the way we do things here at Owasso."

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