Community reacts to high school prayer bill sponsored this week

COLUMBUS, Ga. - A Georgia lawmaker wants to give Georgia high schools the option to pray before sporting events.

State Senator and Gubernatorial candidate Michael Williams tells News 3 the bill he's trying to get passed, comes in the wake of a recent prayer backlash.

Senator Williams tells News 3 the move comes after a head football coach in Coweta County, his district, bowed his head while his team prayed after a game last fall.

He says, a radical, anti-Christian group filed a complaint on that school and others that chose to carry out prayer.

Folks here in the valley, including the Muscogee County School district tells us how they believe the bill would impact Georgia high schools if it were to get passed.

"One of the fundamental belief and rights in our the freedom of religion and we see every day where there are attacks on this," says Senator Mike Williams.

This week, Georgia Senator and Gubernatorial candidate Mike Williams sponsored a bill centered around prayer.

"What it does is it protects faculty, staff as well as students their freedom of religion...students and the faculty when they go to school that they don't give up..they don't lose their right and freedom of religion," says Williams.

Senator Williams says the name of the bill is "The Coach Small Religious Protection Act".

He says ne named the bill after John Small, the head football coach for East Coweta High School.

This, after an anti-Christian organization complained after small chose to bow his head during a team-led prayer following a game last fall.

"An organization from up in Minnesota, Wisconsin called Freedom From Religion Foundation came down and was harassing Coach Small and sued the school system and made a big ordeal," says Williams.

"I found trying to mandate prayer to be more harm than good," says Lowonzo Crawford.

That's Lowonzo Crawford, a longtime educator in Columbus. She explains her comment to News 3 more in-depth.

"Because friction amongst the students even...even the students in the younger grade, in elementary grade would make fun of the ones who couldn't stand because of their upbringing at home," says Crawford.

Meantime Hardway High head football coach Mike Woolridge says when it comes to his team.

"I would allow them to pray to the religion of their choice..I'm not gonna force religion on any kid and if a kid didn't want to participate that would be their option," says Woolridge.

The Muscogee County School District Athletic Director is also weighing in. Both he and the Director of Communications say, "The district will support the legislation that comes forth, as a result of this bill, if it is implemented into law."




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