Religion

School District Sued For Reportedly 'Endorsing Prayer In The Classroom'

| by Kendal Mitchell
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A First Amendment group filed a federal lawsuit against a Georgia school district last week over an elementary school’s practice of voluntary prayer.

Lawyers from the Freedom from Religion Foundation, a Wisconsin-based law group which advocates for the separation of church and state, claim that the Emanuel County School District in Swaisboro, Georgia, after receiving complaints that a kindergarten teacher coerced a student into praying.

Claims for the case, released on Feb. 9, include, "(challenging) the constitutionality of the Defendant’s practice of allowing employees to organize, participate in, and endorse prayer in the classroom and proselytize students."

The filers of the lawsuit allege staff members at the Swainsboro Primary School led the kindergartener in a lunchtime prayer.

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According to the group’s filing, the students said the prayer, "God our Father, We give thanks for our many blessings. Amen."

Parents of the student sent a complaint to school officials asking for their child to not perform the prayer, according to filings by the FFRF.

School officials responded that teachers allow students to go into the hallway during times of brief prayer, like before meals or during the Pledge of Allegiance.

Lawyers from the Freedom from Religion Foundation, however, said the children who asked to leave the room during prayer times were treated curtly by their teacher and received negative attention from their classmates.

“(The act of praying violated) the personal consciences of nonreligious parents and students," according to a statement release by the group.

Officials from the Emanuel County School District have not commented on the action.

The agenda of a regularly scheduled school board meeting on Monday night did not include items concerning the legal action. Instead, it listed prayer and Pledge of Allegiance as the opening actions that board members would discuss.

The Freedom from Religion Foundation also filed lawsuits against officials in Franklin County, Indiana, over a nativity scene on the courthouse lawn.

Sources: Christian Examiner, Freedom from Religion Foundation

Photo Credit: The Blaze, WikiCommons