Appeals Court Reverses Decision Against Christian High School in Florida That Was Banned from Praying Before Football Games

An appeals court has reversed a decision against a Christian school that was banned from praying before a high school football game overseen by a public athletic association.  

Cambridge Christian School in Tampa, Florida, was ordered not to pray over a loudspeaker system at the start of its game against University Christian School of Jacksonville in 2015.

The Christian school subsequently filed a lawsuit against the Florida High School Athletic Association.

A three judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit issued a unanimous decision Wednesday partly reversing a district court decision against the school in the case of Cambridge Christian School, Inc. v. Florida High School Athletic Association, Inc.

Eleventh Circuit Judge Stanley Marcus wrote the court’s opinion, which concluded that “the district court was too quick to dismiss all of Cambridge Christian’s claims out of hand.”

“Taking the complaint in a light most favorable to the plaintiff, as we must at this stage in the proceedings, the schools’ claims for relief under the Free Speech and Free Exercise Clauses have been adequately and plausibly pled,” wrote Marcus.

“And while we agree with the district court that the loudspeaker was a nonpublic forum, we conclude that Cambridge Christian has plausibly alleged that it was arbitrarily and haphazardly denied access to the forum in violation of the First Amendment.”

While concluding that Cambridge Christian School should be heard on those complaints, the panel also concluded that the school “failed to plead a ‘substantial burden’ under the Florida Religious Free Restoration Act because it has not alleged that the FHSAA forbade it from engaging in conduct that its religion mandates.”

“We can find nothing in the complaint, drawing every reasonable inference in favor of Cambridge Christian, that comes close to pleading a substantial burden,” he continued.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Michael Gryboski