Prayer pulled from Haralson Co. high school games - Atlanta News, Weather, Traffic, and Sports | FOX 5

No prayer before Haralson Co. high school games, protest planned

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BREMEN, Ga. -

Some west Georgia residents are fighting back against a Wisconsin group that targeted them to end pregame prayers during football season.

Last year, the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation sent the Haralson County School Board a letter notifying them that the traditional pregame prayer before football games is unconstitutional.  The school board then pulled the prayer beginning this football season.

Pastor Mason Bush of Providence Baptist Church led the prayer for 15 years. He said the prayer consisted of three things: a prayer for the country, freedom and the safety of student athletes.

The Haralson County Rebels are scheduled to play their first home game of the season on Friday, and residents plan to make a statement in favor of the prayer.

Bush and other church leaders are urging upset residents to go to Friday's game and pray anyway in a lawful way.

"We're going to say the Lord's Prayer in unity, as one. Not one preacher or one individual who believes in God standing up there, but in unity – all of us," said Bush.

Store owners Greg and Deanne Wilson are making and selling t-shirts stating "Proud to be a Rebel – I still pray" along with a reference to Bible verse James 5:16 on a football helmet.

"Prayer has never hurt anyone. If you don't want to pray, don't bow your head," said Deanne Wilson.

As many of 3,000 people are expected to participate in the prayer on Friday.

Brett Stanton, Haralson County's superintendent of schools, released a statement saying, "Personally, it saddens me since my faith is a very important part of my life. However, from a professional standpoint, as superintendent of Haralson County schools, I have a responsibility to protect the school system from litigation."

The Freedom From Religion Foundation has also demanded that Ridgeland High School's coach stop allowing local churches to feed his team before games. The organization also wanted an investigation into head coach Mark Mariakis.

The school sent back a lengthy rebuttal, and a Facebook page has been created up in support of the coach.

HOT TOPIC QUESTION OF THE DAY: What do you think? Let us know on our FOX 5 Atlanta Facebook page, or tweet us @GoodDayAtlanta.  We'll read some of your responses during the 9 a.m. hour of Good Day!

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