When some of the cheerleaders at a Tennessee high school learned that they would no longer be able to publicly pray over the loudspeaker before football games, they took action.
The decades-long tradition at Oneida High School in Oneida, Tennessee, of saying an invocation over the PA was recently halted following complaints from atheist and civil rights leaders, who called the practice a violation of the separation of church and state, WBIR-TV reported.
School officials replaced the public prayers with a moment of silence, bumping out the popular faith-based tradition that had reportedly been unfolding at the school since 1930.
That removal didn’t sit too well with some of the cheerleaders, though, leading Asia Canada, a member of the squad, to break the moment of silence before a recent game by loudly reciting the Lord’s Prayer — an act that has had a sweeping impact.
“He called for the moment of silence and I started off, ‘Our Father who art in heaven’ and everyone joined in,” she told WBIR-TV.
Kevin Acres, who does announcements for each game, told the outlet that the entire stadium joined in, including the opposing team members.
Now, Canada and her squad say the Lord’s Prayer before every home game — a recitation that is permitted, as it is student-led and not conducted over a loudspeaker.
Groups like the American Civil Liberties Union and the Freedom From Religion Foundation had previously encouraged the district to drop public prayer.
While the school eventually complied and frustrated some of the faithful, the cheerleaders’ new tradition has led to what Acres believes is a positive development.
“Where you had one person saying a prayer over the PA, now you’ve got hundreds, maybe a thousand people saying it together,” he said, according to the Huffington Post.
(H/T: Huffington Post)