Pasco coaches can't lead post-game prayers - WFLA News Channel 8

Pasco coaches can't lead post-game prayers

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Superintendent Kurt Browning Superintendent Kurt Browning
PASCO COUNTY, FL (WFLA) -

Seeing players pray together after high school football games is just as common as seeing a quarterback throw a deep pass to a wide receiver.

But the superintendent of Pasco County schools, Kurt Browning, recently issued a memo to staff to make sure coaches and other school employees know they can't lead those post-game prayers.

"It doesn't prohibit a coach from being in the center of the football field with his players praying after a game it just that it has to be student-led and it can't be coach-led in this case," said Browning.

The issue came to light following a recent game in Pasco County, where coaches led the players in prayer.

The superintendent's actions have drawn criticism from some Pasco County parents, who are upset over the stand taken by the district's top school administrator.

"I think that should be left up to the employee, if he wishes to take part with the students, that is fine, or if he asked by the students to take part or to lead in prayer I think that is fine too," said parent Ben Maggio.

Other Pasco County parents say they understand why the superintendent is against the coach-led prayer.

"I can see the position he is in and respect it... but at the end of the day coming up with a common ground and a solution to where people who do want to have prayer are capable of doing that," said Ron Rueff, another parent.

Superintendent Browning says he is not anti-religion; in fact, he says he prays every day.

"The fact is I took an oath to uphold the Constitution and the laws of the of the United States," says Browning.  "And the state of Florida and sometimes those are in conflict with your personal beliefs, and so that is where I am stuck between a rock and a proverbial hard place, but I know the memo we issued was the right thing, and I think the district staff understands where the line is."

The superintendent says he understands why some people may not like the position he's taken, but he is only following the law.

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