Religion

Atheist Group: California Principal Should Not Pray With Students

| by Michael Allen

A recent picture taken at South Bakersfield High School in California appears to show students gathered with Principal Connie Grumling to pray around a school flagpole.

The picture was posted by Facebook user Katy Granado, and re-posted by KEGT, who lists the students involved in the prayer, including the student who was leading the prayer.

There was no mention by Granado of Grumling, but the adult, who is dressed in a white shirt in the picture, could be Grumling based on her picture on the school district's website.

While students are allowed to pray in school, the inclusion of Grumling may be a legal problem, notes the Friendly Atheist.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, a group that advocates for separation of church and state, stated in a letter to Dr. Bryon Schaefer, Kern High School District Superintendent, on Aug. 24 that this "serious constitutional concern" had been brought to the attention of FFRF by a complainant who was not identified.

The FFRF's letter also said:

"Public schools have a constitutional obligation to remain neutral toward religion. It is well settled that a public school employee may not lead, direct or encourage students to engage in prayer.

"...Federal courts have also held that it is unconstitutional for public school employees to participate in the religious activities of their students

"...Any future religious events must be truly student-initiated and student-run. Please inform us in writing of the steps KHSD is taking to remain neutral toward religion and to respect the rights of conscience of its students."

Sources: Friendly Atheist, KGET/Facebook, Freedom From Religion Foundation Via Dropbox.com, South.kernhigh.org / Photo credit: KGET/Facebook