Freedom From Religion Foundation Tells Louisiana Elementary School to Stop Recitation of Daily Prayer
If your child's public school was doing this, what would your reaction be?
Riverbend Elementary School in West Monroe has been told that they can no longer require students to pray in class after a parent complained to the Freedom From Religion Foundation about the daily occurrence. The foundation sent an angry letter to the Ouachita School System about children reportedly being asked to recite a prayer every morning after the Pledge of Allegiance. Apparently, a different child is selected each morning to do so.
"The First Amendment prohibits a public school from sponsoring prayer, even if officially titled as ‘Student Expression,’” foundation staff attorney Chris Line wrote to the school board’s legal counsel in information obtained by thenewsstar.com, whose writer points out that all students and employees are required to attend, unlike an event on school property. “The Supreme Court has continually struck down formal and school-led prayer in public schools.”
In 1962, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Engel vs. Vitale ruled against school-sponsored prayer in public schools, according to mtsu.edu. Now, prayer hasn't been completely kicked out of public schools as there are instances when prayer in school is constitutionally protected. As outlined by the U.S. Department of Education, students are allowed to pray "when not engaged in school activities or instruction," students are allowed to "organize prayer groups, religious clubs, and 'see you at the pole' gatherings before school to the same extent that students are permitted to organize other noncurricular student activities groups," and students "may express their beliefs about religion in homework, artwork, and other written and oral assignments free from discrimination based on the religious perspective of their submissions," among other instances.
You may be wondering what was said in the daily prayer. A copy of it, as pointed out in the angry letter from the Freedom From Religion Foundation, is below:
Father God, Come be with us today. Fill our hearts with joy. Fill our minds with learning. Fill our classrooms with peace. Fill our lessons with fun. Fill our friendships with kindness. Fill Riverbend Elementary with love. Amen."
The superintendent says the prayer has been stopped.
Will the Freedom From Religion Foundation file suit? That remains to be seen.