The North Dakota Senate will soon consider a bill that will subject public schools to broadcasted prayers at high school athletic games.
Please tell your state senators to halt House Bill 1275, which schemes to allow prayers at high school athletic events at private schools, even if the events are part of the North Dakota High School Activities Association. This bill would instruct the activities association to allow broadcasted prayers at any of its events held at a private school, even a nonreligious private school, and even if the visiting team is a public school. The association's events are government-sponsored, and the U.S. Supreme Court has struck down broadcasted prayers at government-sponsored high school athletic events.
The North Dakota House of Representatives passed HB 1275 and the Senate will consider it next. Please call or email your state senators today to voice your opposition to a bill that calls for unconstitutional government prayer.
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(Keep reading if you wish to learn more about the bill.)
HB 1275 will force the North Dakota High School Activities Association to choose between violating state law or violating federal law. It specifically states that "neither the North Dakota High School Activities Association nor any other entity may prohibit a parochial or private school, which is a member of the activities association or another entity, from offering a prayer before an athletic activity held on the premises of the parochial or private school."
A federal magistrate judge in Florida, considering this same issue, recently recommended that the court rule in favor of the Florida High School Athletic Association, which prohibited prayer at a Florida athletic association event, even though the visiting team was also Christian. North Dakota's SB 1275 would go even further. It would instruct the association to violate federal law by allowing broadcasted prayers at these events.
Allowing a prayer under these circumstances would put public schools in an impossible position because public schools cannot send students to participate in events if they know there will be prayer. If passed, this bill will force public schools to opt out of athletic contests against any private religious school that chooses to take advantage of the new law. A public school that does not opt out of the contest will invite a lawsuit from any participating student or community member who objects to the prayer. The bill would jeopardize North Dakota taxpayer dollars by inviting preventable lawsuits.