In Dunmore, The Team Prays On

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DUNMORE---The Dunmore high school football program is steeped in tradition.

Head Coach Jack Henzes has been on the sidelines here for more than 40 years and for decades, he has led his team in prayer before games.

But no more.

"I'm very religious myself and I believe that it's tradition that we need to keep it going. It's a shame that it got called off, but it is what it is,” said Chris Murray, a Dunmore High School Junior.

"We've been coming to these games for so long and it's always been,” said Dolly Rubino of Dunmore.

School officials say there was a complaint made to the Freedom from Religion Foundation, based in Wisconsin.

The foundation sent a letter to school officials who say it was clear, school coaches and officials leading prayers at the public school is illegal.

"He's done it all along and he doesn't force the kids to say a prayer, it's whatever they want to do. You know, they do their own thing. They can take a knee and meditate if they want to, so all the schools should be allowed to do it,” said Ann Cole of Dunmore.

"They pray for the safety of the players, they pray for a good game, there's no harm, no foul,” said Bob Getz of Dunmore.

Coach Henzes didn't want to speak about the controversy.

Before the game, without their coach leading them, the players knelt and said their own prayer.

"Everyone just seems to be taking God out of our world, and we need god in our world and there's nothing wrong with prayer, nothing wrong with prayer,” said Rose DeMarco of Dunmore.

The players and even some fans say they plan to continue praying on their own before games, making it the new tradition at Dunmore.

"I think the new tradition is great because they can't do the other one, it's the law,” said Sylvia Rinaldi of Dunmore.

23 comments

  • Kenneth Claflin

    It is NOT against the law for teachers to pray. We have become paranoid of offending people. We need to be tolerant.

  • burtfan16

    It’s funny, we’re all arguing about the issue of “Separation of Church and State” when two things are incorrect here. First off it should be referred to as “Separation of Religion and State” because I don’t pray in a church I pray in my home, in my own way. Secondly why should any institution make it a point to obey this doctrine when “In God We Trust” is still on our currency?

  • Amy

    So Extremely Proud of the Football Players for continuing to say a prayer before games. It’s really not that difficult of a concept. If you want to participate in a prayer,you are most welcome, If not, just wait quietly until they are finished and move on. I highly doubt anyone was forced to participate unwillingly. Leave them alone, FRR, and mind your own business.

    • Angelique Devereaux

      Hasn’t trying to blame political correctness for things that have nothing to do with it gone on for enough?

      This has nothing to do with PC or not. It has to do with illegal activity, School official (coach) leading prayer. If the kids want to do it on their own that is their choice but by an official leading it, the message is sent (whether it is intentional or not) that prayer is being sanctioned. Which boils down to organized religion being given special privileges over those who do not belong to any religion or those who are not part of an organized religion.

      So before trying to blame PC for things that have nothing to do with it try actually thinking about whether it applies for a moment. Considering the reality that exists that the majority of those who claim to be against PC also tend to be bigots of one type or another.

  • Mary Sturdevant

    Freedom of religion includes BOTH the rights to practice or not practice religion as you choose. By restricting their ability to be led in prayer, they are ALSO violating individual rights to choose. As long as the prayer was not forced, individuals had/have the right to abstain from the practice. The Freedom from Religion Foundation, and any legislature that says otherwise, is out of line. And bully on the school for not standing up to them – the law works BOTH ways.Just as someone can file a complaint against the school, so the school can file a complaint on behalf of those who choose to pray….

    • PieInTheSky

      If I was to pray to Allah from the Koran, you would be offended. Are you defending the rights of terrorists? Keep religion in churches and out of public spaces. Too many people have died “in the name of God”.

      • Time to Drain the Swamp

        If you were to pray to Allah you’d be totally fine because our Muslim in Chief would declare it a hate crime by bigots and Islamophobes. But because it’s Christianity they can get walked all over, the left are a bunch of hypocrites.

  • CeeMe

    The Freedom from Religion people are nothing but disgruntled holes. I hope people in the bleachers make the sign of the Cross and pray away. Players, too. The FRR people need to get a life. Obviously, too much time on their hands. Tackle a real problem like hunger, violence and the like. God!!!

  • Pete

    THANK YOU football players for having the courage and integrity to stand up to bullying and dictatorial orders to show respect for democracy.

  • RUKidding

    I do hope you are being sarcastic with this comment. If not may I suggest you crawl back in your home & stay there because if seeing someone pray offends you God knows what else does! I will pray for you Thank you……but don’t worry I’ll do it somewhere that you cant see me!

    • Keith Wright

      Well, okay THANK YOU if you get “offended” then just look the other way or close your eyes or better yet……just don’t attend the games because the kids here are going to do their own thing and I don’t know them, but I am proud of each and everyone of them for doing what they felt was the right thing to do. Why do you think that they or everyone must stop doing what has been done for years? When did the rights of the few (like you) become more important them the rights of many? People like you should just stop pushing your beliefs on everyone else! I’m sick and tired of the “few” who are just bulling everyone else! Just go away to some island where all of you “few” can live together if you can or maybe then you’ll find something about each other that “OFFENDS” each one of you……….LOL!

  • JD

    The students who continue to pray have my utmost respect! This country was founded on Freedom OF religion, NOT freedom FROM religion. If you want to pray, PLEASE DO! and if you DON’T, then by all means, just walk away. It’s just that simple!

    • Rurbanite

      That’s not the issue. This is not about “taking God out of our world.” Anyone can pray anytime. But it is wrong to be coerced into praying, or to be required to adopt a style or form of prayer that is alien to one’s religious tradition. If the coach were Muslim, what would you think if he made the students face Mecca? What if a Catholic coach required Protestant players to say the rosary? To me, prayer is cheapened when it is made mandatory. There’s nothing wrong with each individual student saying a private prayer.

    • Angelique Devereaux

      No it isn’t that simple. People want to over simplify it for no other goal than to ignore the information or perspectives that do not agree with their prejudiced angle.

      Such as the blatant illegality of such activities being sanctioned by the school is what makes it wrong. The kids want to choose to pray that is one thing but an official doing so changes it from choice to being pushed to join in.

      People love to ignore things like social or societal pressure to conform when it has to do with actions they agree with.

      No matter how it is twisted, an official leading it IS illegal and that is all that matters. The kids doing it on their own of their own volition is a completely separate and allowable situation.

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