A Florida man has asked a city council to end a Pee Wee football game’s pregame prayer tradition, claiming that the four-year-old custom violates his and his son’s First Amendment rights because the games are played on public land.
On Monday Louie Fromm, an assistant coach for the Holmes County Pee Wee Football Association, formally asked the Vernon, Florida City Council to end the practice, Fox News reports.
League officials say they are a private organization that takes no government money and so the city council has no right to demand an end to the prayer. Fromm contends that because the field on which the football games are played is public property, the city must order the prayers to stop.
City officials are waiting on the city attorney’s opinion before taking action.
The 400-player league’s president Debbie Gunter has said a petition with nearly 500 signatures has been circulating in support of continuing the prayer.
Gunter told Fox News that the association has been saying prayers for four years and Fromm “started complaining last year.”
"He has a problem with prayer, but while I don't have a problem with his non-beliefs, he shouldn't have a problem with ours."
She said the two-minute prayer stresses good sportsmanship and faith.
Fromm has said his son has been the target of isolation and ridicule from other players because he does not participate in the prayer. Trying to counter the idea the change would “appease a single upset individual,” he told the city council that they had been “grossly misinformed and blinded by a small group of religious fundamentalists.”
According to Fox News, he claimed that the right to religious freedom was endangered by others and had “already been hijacked by that very same group.”