Activist Organization’s Issue with Prayer Circle Won’t Stop Lake City’s Support of Coach’s Daughter

“What’s not appropriate is for the school to essentially organize a religious prayer service and then to promote that.”

An activist organization is taking exception to how students at a Northern Michigan school are supporting a sick child.

The Michigan Association of Civil Rights Activists says Lake City High School promoted a religious prayer service by sharing videos on social media.

The videos are of what the community calls a “family circle,” following a high school football practice.

The team showed support for their coach and his 4-year-old daughter who’s hospitalized in Grand Rapids.

On Sunday at midnight, students, high school football players and the community huddled together in support of their coach and his 4-year old daughter Harper, it’s a support that’s seen throughout the small community.

“That’s how Lake City is,” Lacie Henjal, said.

On a drive through Lake City the signs of support for Harper Smith are everywhere you look as the 4-year-old continues her fight in a hospital downstate.

“It’s unthinkable, you just can’t even put yourself in their shoes,” Lacie, added.

Hundreds gathered at the football field where her dad coaches on Sunday.

“Nobody was forced, it was planned by students and parents it was just a great show of support for the family,” Lacie, explained.

But an activist group took exception to the school’s football team sharing the video on their social media accounts.

“We’ve asked the school to remove the video and remove the post for it,” Kahle said.

During a phone interview we asked Mitch Kahle the co-founder of MACRA if the group making an issue of the team supporting a family with a sick child, is doing more harm than good?

“We have no problem at all with a fundraising event for a family in need, we encourage it,” Kahle, said.

“I don’t think anybody has been impeded at all in whatever they wish to do to support this family. This isn’t about a family, it’s not about an individual it’s about a person in the community who feels that their public school should not be used to promote religion, and clearly from the video you can see that’s what’s being done,”  Kahle, added.

Those who were at the family circle say that’s not the case.

“Yes a pastor offered prayer, but it was never advertised as a prayer event it was a family circle coming to support Kyle, Harper, Linda and Hudson. It bothers me that someone that’s not from our community is trying to silence us.

The school district agrees, they have no plans on removing the videos.

“I don’t think that’s going to stop this town, I don’t think much stops Lake City honestly,” Lacie, said.

If you are interested in helping out Harper and her family with the ongoing medical expenses there is a spaghetti dinner fundraiser on Sunday, Aug. 19, at Northland Community Church from 1-4 p.m.

Those unable to attend who would still like to help the family may send a donation to Harper’s grandmother Tammy Smith, P.O. Box 341, Lake City, MI 49651. Put “Harper” on the memo line.