High School Football Team Takes a Knee in Prayer, Defying School Board
By Movieguide® Staff
FACING THE GIANTS, WOODLAWN, and the upcoming movie AMERICAN UNDERDOG all champion the iconic duo of faith and football. However, in Putnam County, Tennessee, coaches were banned from leading their players in prayer before or after games.
A Tennessee school board told teachers and coaches that it could no longer lead students in prayer after the Americans United for Separation of Church and State sent the district a letter, according to WZTV-TV.
“Courts have consistently ruled that prayer and proselytizing cannot be sponsored by schools or school personnel,” an attorney for Putnam County Schools (PCS) noted of the claim.
However, the district recognized “the importance of prayer in the lives of our students, faculty, and staff members,” and that they “support the right of students to participate in and lead spontaneous prayers.”
“That right is and will continue to be protected,” the district said. “We also understand that faculty and staff members cannot lead or participate in the spontaneous student-led prayers.”
However, students and players of various high schools in the district decided to demonstrate that the law would not keep them from praying with their coaches.
Dustin Whitefield, a father of a student at Upperman High School, said that post-game prayers have always been “optional for players.”
“After the game, players and cheerleaders that choose to will be on the field praying on their own,” he told WZTV-TV. “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.”
After Upperman’s most recent game, parents, faculty and students prayed together on the field.
“Satan’s power was defeated tonight, as the threat of legal action to forbid prayer after the game was overwhelmed by player lead prayer, supported by parents and fans in solidarity on Overall Field,” Bob Vick, a graduate of a PCS school and a fan of the Upperman football team, posted on Facebook. “God bless the Baxter and Stone players for their faith and courage.”
Satan’s power was defeated tonight,as the threat of a legal action to forbid prayer after the game was overwhelmed by…
Vick’s photo has since gone viral, with many more showing their support of the public school’s students via social media.
Faith and athletics can be a formational combination for young believers in their walk with Christ, as portrayed in FACING THE GIANTS.
A portion of Movieguide®’s review reads:
FACING THE GIANTS is an entertaining high school football movie with a strong evangelistic thrust. Coach Grant at Shiloh Christian Academy has reached the low point in his life. The football team keeps losing year after year, his car keeps stalling, his house smells from a rat that died somewhere, and he is impotent, so his wife cannot have the baby she wants. The fathers want to get rid of him. One man, however, prays for the students and gives Grant the wise message that he needs to bloom where he’s planted. After prayer, Grant realizes that the importance of the football team is not winning the game but serving God. With this revelation, he rebuilds the team, revival breaks out in the school, and miracles start to happen.
The pacing of FACING THE GIANTS is excellent. The audience will laugh and get caught up in the excitement of the game. It is a very emotional movie. The script and storyline are so good that most people will overlook the minor limitations of a small budget. MOVIEGUIDE® highly recommends FACING THE GIANTS and commends the filmmakers for producing such an inspiring, entertaining movie.