OSSAA reverses policy that banned prayer at school events
According to the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association (OSSAA) policy obtained by KFAQ on Wednesday, The school or other organization providing the facility for an OSSAA playoff or championship event may permit a moment of silence prior to the start of all activities...
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Last summer, Rep. Bobby Cleveland of Lexington made a loud protest against the OSSAA's extraordinary effort to silence any concerted religious behavior. Sooner Politics covered his efforts, here: Rep Bobby Cleveland Calls For Reform of OSSAA.
Cleveland said that OSSAA’s decision is a continuation of a policy that infringes on people’s right to prayer.
In October, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt challenged OSSAA's position prohibiting students and schools from using the PA system for prayers or moments of silence, saying OSSAA went "constitutionally overboard" in its policy.“How can an organization or even the government tell someone that they cannot pray,” Cleveland asked. “It’s fine if OSSAA officials don’t want to take part. It’s fine if anyone present doesn’t want to take part. Why is it okay to tell people they can’t pray?” Ed Sheakley“People shouldn’t have to ask permission,” he said. “I read in the paper where he (Sheakley) said it was his playoff, well it’s not his playoff. He’s not a dictator. If they (the athletes) can pray in other games, why change the rules for the playoffs? Who does he think he is?”Cleveland said that the policies reflect a movement by the left to protect “made-up rights” while stepping on clearly-defined constitutional rights.“Freedom of religion does not mean freedom from religion,” Cleveland said. “It takes an awful lot of twisting around to get the concept so backwards.”Cleveland referred to multiple controversies which have stained the reputation of OSSAA in recent years, questioning Sheakley’s ability to effectively lead the state’s largest secondary schools sports governing body.“He needs to resign,” Cleveland said. “This is just another example of OSSAAs arrogant attitude. OSSAA is out of control.”
|Ed Sheakley, OSSAA|
The revised OSSAA policy states,
"If the school or other organization providing the facility chooses to permit a moment of silence, the following announcement shall be given: 'We will now recognize a moment of silence so that you may, if you choose, reflect, meditate, pray, or engage in other silent activity.'"
|Scott Pruitt, OK A.G.|
“As my office opined previously, OSSAA’s policy banning student-led prayer at high school sporting events was constitutionally overbroad. My office worked with OSSAA officials to amend the policy and today’s decision to reverse the ban on student-led prayer brings OSSAA policy in line with our constitutional liberties. This decision is a victory for the right of all Oklahomans to freely exercise their religious beliefs in accordance with the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. I commend OSSAA and its officials for making the change to accommodate the religious liberty of Oklahoma students and parents.”
|David Van Risseghem|
" I commend OSSAA and its officials for making the change to accommodate the religious liberty of Oklahoma students and parents." A.G. Scott Pruitt