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OSSAA changes policy to include “moment of silence” before playoff games

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OKLAHOMA CITY -- A controversial policy banning organized prayer over a loud speaker has the attorney general and state lawmakers asking for another look.

Their request prompted changes to the OSSAA policy.

“Over the years, occasionally, people would come forward at events and say `I would like to read a prayer and those people had been denied,” Mark Grossman, attorney for OSSAA said.

An attorney for the OSSAA, the governing body of high school sports in Oklahoma, is addressing a concern over a long-time policy.

Since 1993, using a PA system for prayer at a playoff game was against the rules. And in June, the agency reaffirmed their policy, prompting outcry from some state lawmakers, who then turned to the state attorney general.

He agreed, calling the policy "constitutionally over-broad."

During a meeting Wednesday, the OSSAA revised the rules, now allowing for a moment of silence to be called over the loud speaker before playoff games.

“You have to come up with a procedure that does not favor or disfavor religion,” Grossman said.

 It will be up to each hosting site to determine if there will be a moment of silence before a playoff game.

"I think it's fair. I think the OSSAA did what they could to try to compromise," Representative Bobby Cleveland said.

OSSAA officials say their intention was never to single out a specific group or religion.

"There's a lot of U.S. Supreme Court decisions and a lot of controversy over whether the reading of a prayer would constitute an endorsement of a religion," Grossman said.

State Representative Bobby Cleveland led a group of lawmakers to call on the OSSAA to change this policy.

"Every year at playoff time I get call after call after calls from kids crying, from pastors, from superintendents, from principals saying we've been doing this all year round. Now we're in a playoff, and we're not allowed to do it," Cleveland

It’s a compromise for both sides in a controversial issue.