A football team has been banned from its Tebowing style team prayer after a lawsuit from the American Civil Liberties Union claimed a violation of church and state.
Players at Lahser High School in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan had a tradition of meeting after games for prayer. The team led the prayer at midfield, with players from Lahser joining opponents in taking a knee and offering thanks for the game. Their pose was compared to Tebowing, the one-knee praying made popular by devout Christian football player Tim Tebow.
After the ACLU lawsuit, the team announced it would ban the Tebowing style prayer and would no longer hold prayer sessions on school property. School officials also noted that for the last decade any student-athlete who felt uncomfortable was able to leave the prayer, a tradition that started with a student who did not want to participate.
“It kind of just carried on,” Lahser football coach Dan Loria told the Oakland Press. “It was something that somebody wanted to do every year. I got caught up because of how it originated and I lost sight of it.”
Loria added that it originated from one player, who after games would pray for his ailing brother. He asked if others wanted to join in, and it soon became a team tradition.
A lawyer for the ACLU said the reason the team needed to ban its Tebowing prayer sessions was because the coach participated, making it a sort of school-sanctioned event. But they laid blame mainly with the district for allowing it to happen.
“From our perspective the issue is not the coach,” said Dan Korobkin, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan. “The issue is the school and how they respond to a serious situation such as this one. Our concern in writing to them was to make sure that these coach-led prayers would stop.”
Loria said the blame was on him for allowing the team prayers to continue even after players had said it made them uncomfortable. He said he would make sure to put an end to the practice.
“When it comes to discipline, whatever you allow, you encourage,” he said. “By me being present, I was encouraging it. This happened because of me and I had to wake up.”
He noted that the team will ban Tebowing prayer sessions from now on.