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Prayer at Private School Athletic Events

Governor Perdue Signs Bill Allowing Prayer at Private School Athletic Events

Blessed Trinity Catholic High School Principal Frank Moore and Athletic Director Ricky Turner were in attendance when Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue signed a bill allowing prayer at state athletic competitions. Also witnessing the signing was Republican State Representative Mark Burkhalter of the 50th District.

The House bill, which was signed on Tuesday, May 3 under the "Quality Basic Education Act," states that a private school is permitted to conduct a prayer prior to an athletic event held on the campus of the private school.

GHSA has always permitted independent schools to begin athletic contests held on their property with an invocation, said Frank Moore. To deny those same schools that fundamental freedom of expression in playoff games on their own property is simply not right. We are very grateful to Rep. Mark Burkhalter for writing the bill and to Governor Perdue for signing it.

According to Ricky Turner, the bill enables the school community to express its Catholic identity at a crucial time for the athletes who have worked hard to reach their goals. Praying for Gods grace is a very important part of what our student-athletes and coaches do before stepping foot on the field or court. It means a lot to the families at BT to thank God for all of the wonderful gifts and to ask Him to protect both teams from injury and to play to the best of their athletic ability while showing sportsmanship.

Mark Burkhalter, a parent at Blessed Trinity and a member of St. Brigid Catholic Church in Alpharetta, wrote the bill after becoming aware of an incident at two Atlanta-area Christian schools where prayer was not allowed during a GHSA-hosted state athletic event. As a parent who believes in Catholic education for his children, he was more than concerned when his right and his childrens right to pray prior to an athletic competition was not allowed. To prohibit a private school from praying on its own property is analogous to saying you cannot pray at church, according to Burkhalter.

During my 13 years in public service, this is the bill that I am most proud of. It speaks to what is right to the First Amendment of the United States Constitution and further protects those rights, he said.