A Tampa school sued the State of Florida in Federal court Tuesday over what it called violations of free speech and religious freedom. Cambridge Christian School filed the lawsuit after the Florida High School Athletic Association said it would not allow the team to say a prayer over the loudspeaker at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando before playing in the state championship football game last December.
The state’s reasoning behind the decision was that the Citrus Bowl was a public venue primarily funded by tax dollars, and that using the public address system to broadcast a prayer would be against state guidelines.
“You cannot banish religious speech to the broom closets. It’s permissible within our society,” said Jeremy Dys, Senior Counsel for the First Liberty Institute. “The Florida High School Athletic Association said ‘If you want to engage in religious speech in public, you can’t do that here.’ That’s illegal, it’s unconstitutional, it needs to change.”
“The students have a right and a freedom under the First Amendment to exercise their right of speech, free speech in America,” said Tim Euler, head of Cambridge Christian and father of a player on the school’s varsity football team.
“I take offense to that as a citizen of the United States as well as head of the Cambridge Christian School and as a dad… To say a prayer of thanksgiving prior to an athletic event should not be any different than Congress opening up their meetings in prayer.”
10News reached out to the FHSAA on Tuesday, but no one would comment because they hadn't received the paperwork for the lawsuit yet.