The controversial issue of prayer in schools continued Friday night, not in the classroom but on the football field in Apopka as fans of the city’s high school made their voices heard regarding prayer on school campus.
Glen Baer is one of thousands of fans who showed up to show support for the Apopka High School football team Friday night, but Baer’s not here for the game.
"I don’t care about the football game just as much as I do making sure prayer is able to stay in schools or at least have that option if they choose to," said Baer.
District coaches and employees, including chaplains, are not allowed to lead prayer before or after games anymore due to complaints from some parents and the Wisconsin-based Freedom from Religion Foundation citing “illegal religious activity” at an earlier Sanford High School game.
Florida Law authorizes school districts to allow students to deliver prayers and "inspirational messages" at student assemblies, like football games and rallies. Adults, however, are not allowed to influence or lead those prayers on school grounds. The bill was passed and signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott in 2012.
That's something that’s not sitting well with many parents.
"I am so done with this whole movement of pushing God out of our society and out of these kids’ lives – they need that more than anything, right now," said Lorri Tolliver, the parent of a cheerleader.
But other parents said it’s fine if the coaches or chaplin do not lead prayer – it shouldn’t be up to them, anyway.
Marlene Meks is a mother of one of the team's players.
"Yeah, this is about the kids," Meks said. "This isn’t about prayer or not prayer, this is what the kids believe in so I feel the kids should be able to pray."
The Freedom from Religion Foundation said in a statement:
“The school cannot give preachers access to a captive audience of public school students for a religious purpose, like prayer.”
In the meantime, Glen Baer will continue to attend football games with his favorite book in hand - his Bible.
Members of the Apopka High Football team said the praying will continue but they will now lead the prayers because it bonds them as a team.