West Virginia High School's Team Prayers Spark Controversy

| by Tony Tran
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A West Virginia School District is in an uproar after receiving a letter from the Freedom of Religion Foundation.

Recently, the pro-secular legal group sent a letter of complaint to the Harrison County School District regarding members of one of the high school athletic teams leading a prayer and requesting another team to respond. 

This is a direct violation of the constitutional separation of church and state, the letter claims.

School District Superintendent Dr. Mark Manchin explained to WDTV reporters that no school educator is allowed to be associated with any prayer. This includes coaches, administrators, as well as the Board of Education. 

However, it is completely fine that students lead the prayers, he claims.

"It can be led by students, it can be led spontaneously by students, several students can get together to pray to whoever they wish. There's no banning of that," he explained.

In any case, the school district is now requiring the coaches to sign the letter to see that they understand the rules laid out for them.

The complaint drew the ire of many parents as well as students, with many confused as to why anyone would complain in the first place. 

"I know that it's school property, that they're not allowed to do that, and you know, a choice is for team members to pray off the school property somewhere and then go to the game," said Antoinette Casto, the mother of one of the students who prayed. "Or you know what, I say parents, those parents out there that I know, they're all brave individuals, I say, 'Stick by your children. Stick by them. Go out on the field and pray with your kids before the game.'"

Bridgeport soccer player Imoni Saab said, "It upsets me that it's kind of a discussion to be open at all. It doesn't affect me too much because I don't think that right should ever be taken away from me so it's not really going to stop me at all." 

Dr. Manchin continued to say that the letter "is just reiterating what has been told to coaches for years as part of federal law," according to local station WDTV.

Source: WDTV Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons