In 2015 Cambridge Christian School of Tampa, Florida, met University Christian School of Jacksonville, Florida, in Camping World Stadium for a championship football game. When Cambridge Christian wanted to offer a pregame prayer over the loudspeaker they were denied by the Florida High School Athletic Association citing Abington v. Schempp.
Nevertheless, when the two teams met on the field before the kick off, they prayed without the benefit of it being broadcast.
In a federal lawsuit Cambridge Christian alleges the football players’ religious freedoms were violated when the FHSAA denied them the right to “broadcast a pregame prayer over the loudspeaker.” They further claim by doing so the FHSAA denied spectators the opportunity to participate.
But the players did pray, and any spectator was at liberty when they saw those young men in prayer on that field to join in a silent prayer, that in the heat and very physical competition to come, that a Christ-like spirit prevail and each player be protected from serious harm.
Cambridge Christian cannot claim any right was denied; they can merely say access to the loudspeaker was denied. Jesus Himself decried the sort of ostentatious spectator-focused prayer in His Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6:5-6) that Cambridge Christian is claiming a right to.
I would cry foul if one of our religious freedoms are challenged. We are enjoined in the Scriptures (Proverbs 25:26) not to retreat before the advance of evil, whatever form it may take, lest we by our inaction contribute to its corrupting influence. But religious freedom is not the issue here. Denying the use of a microphone is not the denial to pray.
Those young men on the football field that day did the best thing they could to protect their freedom of religion; they simply exercised their right to pray. I have not heard that any of them were arrested for doing so. And the ACLU to my knowledge has not dispatched one of their lackeys to file a lawsuit because the players merely exercised their constitutional right.
Cambridge Christian I think was ill advised to force this issue into overtime by filing a federal lawsuit, because if it is eventually heard in court they probably will not enjoy a home field advantage. Cambridge Christian and University Christian should be thankful and proud of the way their respective players responded that day. I do not even know who won the game, but they are all champions for Christ in my estimation.
We certainly live in a time when religious freedoms are challenged and should be ready to defend them, but the cause of Christ is not well served if we pettily sue at the slightest provocation. I think the best thing Cambridge Christian could have done considering the outcome, is to have simply put this issue to rest in the win column.
“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven,” Matthew 5:16.