But Seriously: When Can We Pray?

BUT SERIOUSLY:  WHEN CAN WE PRAY? -- Football players from Central and East Ridge players pray over an injured Central  athlete.

BUT SERIOUSLY: WHEN CAN WE PRAY? — Football players from Central and East Ridge players pray over an injured Central athlete.

Jared Eddy, Columnist

Over the month, Central High School has made local headlines. First, the track team was sidelined by the County Commission, then students started fundraising to get a new track. Now,  a complaint has been made concerning Central which has put Central in a bad light.

The complaint questions school prayer. On September 6, 2016,  football players from both Central and East Ridge prayed on the field for an injured Central athlete. The prayer was led by alumnus and youth pastor Eric Dill who was in attendance of the game. The student hurt, Jake Biddy, recovered and had no serious injuries after going to the hospital.

Hamilton County Department of Education recently obtained a letter from the Freedom from Religion Foundation saying that the coaches violated the law that states that faculty members cannot lead a religious practice at a school function.

The anonymous person who wrote the letter claims that the school broke the rules. In a statement he later says, “The same Christians who are upset that I complained would be the first to riot if a Muslim came to the school to pray.”

I sat down with Jake Biddy who was the injured player and he had a lot to say.

“No one was forced to do anything for me. It’s unbelievable how big this story has gotten,” explained Biddy.

Many more students and teachers have had a lot to say about the viral video of the team praying, which has gotten over 31,000 views.

“It is not my intention nor my aim to exclude, infringe, or ignore the rights of any group,” said Head Football Coach Courtney Braswell. “My goal is to be the best I can for Chattanooga Central High School and Hamilton County Department of Education on a daily basis.”

After an investigation, Central High School was found to not have broken any laws. The HCDE attorney D. Scott Bennett did release a comment to the accusation.

“Rather than being an unconstitutional endorsement of religion, this was human compassion at its finest,” commented Bennett.

But seriously, did we do anything wrong?

To sum up the answer for you, not at all. The prayer was simply a practice of the First Amendment and was done following the guidelines of the school rules. In response to the anonymous person, I will have to disagree with you on your comment about how we treat students who have a religion. Last year on the track team, we had a runner who was Muslim. At 3:00 everyday, he went to pray during practice. There was never a time where a coach or athlete discriminated or persecuted him for practicing his religion. He also could not come to track meets which fell on Fridays because his church was Friday evening. The coach understood and did not punish or question the runner.

So to whomever made the complaint, I totally get it. You did what you felt was necessary and wanted the county be reminded of the rule. The problem is there were no rules broken and we would not “riot if a Muslim came to the school to pray.” Because he was not “a Muslim,” he was a student, a human who happened to be Muslim, and we did not riot. We accepted him, because were ALL Pounders here at Central High School.