BHS Superintendent: High school can't sanction team prayer

Superintendent: Bloomfield Hills High can't sanction team prayer before football games

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Bloomfield Hills Schools Superintendent Rob Glass Bloomfield Hills Schools Superintendent Rob Glass
BLOOMFIELD HILLS, Mich. (WJBK) -

The superintendent said he is not banning football players from praying individually or together as a group, but Bloomfield Hills High School cannot create an environment that encourages or endorses it.

"Student-led prayer is a very important part of this program and always has been," said former Lahser football player Tyler Roth.

"I'm not a very religious person at all, but I didn't view it as a religious thing. I just more viewed it as a way to be with the team and just kind of bonding," said varsity quarterback Spencer McCourt.

However, the ACLU complained to the Bloomfield Hills school district last February. The superintendent launched an investigation and determined the problem wasn't the prayer, but the fact that the school appeared to sanction it.

Click the video player to hear student's reactions after a meeting Wednesday with the district's superintendent.

"The coach was there presiding over an official school gathering, and that did violate our policy. We reminded the coach that if students wanted to pray, they could certainly do that on their own, but he would need to dismiss the school meeting," said Superintendent Rob Glass.

The move sparked a firestorm and got national attention.

"Can a student or a group of students meet on the football field and spontaneously decide to pray without staff engaging, sanctioning or doing that as part of the official school business? Sure they can," Glass said.

"They never did those prayers during the team meeting. The team meeting had already concluded and all that happened was that coach ... was present," said Lahser graduate Michael Banerian.

"We've had ... kids of other religions, Jewish kids and that, who have just walked off and just went to the locker room and no consequences at all," McCourt said. "We've also had kids from other religions who just sat and just listened and just were with the team."

Despite the controversy, the football players we spoke with said this tradition will continue, even if their coaches can't be involved.

"It was a team thing to begin with, so I don't see any reason why it should be a big deal," McCourt said.

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