LOGAN COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- UPDATE 9/7/18 @ 10:06 p.m.
A group threatened to walk before Friday night's high school football game between Man and West Side if they were not allowed to hold a prayer before kickoff.
That did not happen, though, as the crowd itself led the prayer from the stands. Earlier, fans of both the home and visiting teams said they were not holding that football game until they prayed.
From special T-shirts sold that said 'Pray Hard, Play Hard', to banners hung by the visiting team quoting the same slogan, people were determined. The volunteers in the press box told WSAZ Thursday they were going to walk out if anyone tried to stop that prayer from happening.
The whole issue stems from a complaint filed with the Freedom From Religion Foundation out of Madison, Wisconsin. The agency sent a letter to Logan Schools, saying the pregame ritual of having a prayer over the stadium loudspeaker was unconstitutional and illegal.
Fans, players and even a Chaplain were determined to make this prayer happen, telling WSAZ there are plenty of bigger issues to deal with in this world than worrying about a pregame prayer.
"I grew up in Man, I played football on this field right here and we always had prayer ever since we played midget league football, junior high football, high school, we always had prayer," said Steve Kennedy. "And I just think it's a shame that a group that is trying to put a stop to it is just ridiculous in my book."
While the walkout did not happen, the group planning it apologized to the school board and the community before the game for any unwanted attention caused by the situation.
ORIGINAL STORY 9/6/18
Volunteers who work in the press box for Man High School football games say they are going to walk out if they are not allowed to hold a short prayer before Friday night’s game.
The same group suing the city of Parkersburg, Freedom From Religion Foundation, sent a letter to the Logan Board of Education last week. That letter stated someone had filed a complaint about the pregame prayer and that it needs to stop.
The general sentiment from people in Logan includes an eye roll and asking, "They can’t be serious, right?" But the pregame prayer could soon be a thing of the past.
“A concerned parent has reported multiple Constitutional violations” the letter states.
That’s what Freedom from Religion Foundation says led them to look into reports of a Christian prayer broadcast over the loudspeakers at a football game between Logan and Man on Aug. 23. The group calls it a case of the school promoting religion and that it’s illegal.
The situation has people like Chris Trent pretty fired up.
“I mean, how far are we going to go? With everything that's going on in society, why is this an issue?” he asked.
Trent volunteers as the PA announcer at the stadium, calling the letter from the Foundation unfortunate.
"It’s really just a crying shame,” he said.
Trent says if prayer is not allowed, he’s prepared to walk.
“If it is forbidden tomorrow, then we will walk out,” he said.
Trent said others who volunteer their time in the press box are preparing to join him, too, including those who run the scoreboard and game clock.
“Why should a radical fringe group in Madison, Wisconsin, be able to tell a young boy or girl who goes to prayer club on their own free time who wants to voluntarily offer up a prayer that they cannot pray? And the prayer is really one of the last civil moments that we have,” he said.
WSAZ asked Trent about the separation of church and state: public schools and public football fields supported by public tax dollars. His reply was the founding fathers established the clause so as to not set a national religion, and the school is supported by tax dollars from both those opposed to and in support of the pregame prayer.
The Logan Superintendent could not be reached for comment. However, WSAZ is told guidelines have been sent out by the school ahead of Friday night’s game, saying a prayer will not be allowed.