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UPDATE: TN High School Community Members Share Why They Won’t Stop Praying After Football Games

In a statement to Fox 17 News, PCS officials said:

As a district, we absolutely understand the importance of prayer in the lives of our students, faculty, and staff members. We support the right of students to participate in and lead spontaneous prayers. That right is and will continue to be protected. We also understand that faculty and staff members can not lead or participate in the spontaneous student-led prayers.

AU celebrated this response as a victory in a Sept. 18 Facebook post

A Great WIN for C-S [church-state] Separation! After being alerted to church-state violations happening in Putnam County Schools, AU wrote to the school district that there were several instances of prayer and proselytizing at events at Cookeville and Upperman high schools. The administrators immediately responded “to make sure all policies and laws concerning prayer at school-sponsored activities are followed.”

However, nothing legally prevents students or parents from leading prayer themselves. With that in mind, players gathered on the field after Friday’s game to lead prayer for anyone who wanted to participate in it. 

Before the game, Dustin Whitefield told Fox 17 that parents planned to gather on the field to support the students:

We do realize this is a public school, but it has always been optional for players to pray, and has been a voluntary event…After the game, players and cheerleaders that choose to will be on the field praying on their own. A group of parents will be going out on the field to support them. We will join hands and encircle them from a distance as a sign of protection and solidarity in choosing to continue to pray. This is a parent led event! We are encouraging anyone that would like to show their support to please join us.

As of this writing, Bob Vick’s post showing the high school football players kneeling in prayer after the game has gotten 1,500 engagements and 2,900 shares. Many people responded in the comments praising God and saying how encouraged they were. Said one woman, “This just made my day. We need more of this in our world. God bless them.”