Tennessee will continue pregame prayers despite complaints

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UT Chancellor Jimmy Cheek said the school would continue its pregame prayers at Neyland Stadium. (John Sommers II/Getty Images)

Neyland Stadium

Jimmy Cheek, chancellor of the University of Tennessee, said on Wednesday that the school would still allow nonsectarian prayers prior to football games, according to knoxnews.com. The Freedom From Religion Foundation, a Wisconsin-based atheist group, issued a complaint letter saying the school's prayer practices were unconstitutional.

The pre-game invocation violated a 1997 U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals decision — Chaudhuri vs. State of Tennessee — that struck down sectarian prayers at public universities, the foundation argued.

Before the Vols' 37-20 loss against the Gators on Saturday night, a campus minister from the Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship led a prayer. UT has also scheduled Protestant, Catholic and Jewish leaders to give the invocation before upcoming home games.

Cheek met with the school's counsel and responded to the foundation, saying,

"I appreciate your concern about this issue, and I want to assure you that I have given this issue careful consideration….At this time, however, the university will continue to allow prayers before university events."