Teacher Taught Students a Prayer, North Carolina Town Supports Her

| by Michael Allen

Students at Thomas Jefferson Classical Academy, a publicly-funded charter school in Forest City, N.C., were taught to recite a prayer by a teacher.

Stephanie Morris, a parent of a second-grader at the school, was stunned when her daughter came home and recited the prayer: "Thank you God for our food, the rain and sunny weather, thank you God for our friends and that we are together."

“It’s innocent enough, if you’re a Christian,” Morris told “But there are children that go to that school that are not Christian or are not religious.”

Morris also claims that the teacher sent home written material from a local church with her daughter.

Morris said that she complained to school principal Jason Cole about the prayer and how her daughter was being taunted by other kids, but nothing was done for a month.

However, after the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) sent a letter to the school, the Thomas Jefferson Classical Academy Board of Directors suddenly changed their policy.

The new policy reads: "A student may pray silently any time or audibly on his or her own free time during non-instructional time during the school day if the prayer is totally voluntary and unofficial and the student does not interfere with teachers, school activities, or other students. Coaches and other school employees may not lead or encourage prayer at either practices or games or other extracurricular activities."

Of course, that's been the law of the land since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1962.

Rachel Mode, the teacher of Morris' daughter, claimed she wasn't aware that she was breaking the 52-year-old law, noted The Digital Courier.

"I want to apologize not for the stand I took, but for the trouble [the board] had to go through," said Mode. "I apologize for unknowingly breaking the law in my classroom. I will not break the law again. I will not lead prayer in the classroom, but I will not stop the children from praying."

Mode got a standing ovation by those who attended the meeting who seemed to miss the entire issue.

"If you deny these children the right to pray, you will stand in front of Jesus and he will deny you," added resident Donald Owens.

The issue wasn't about allowing the children to pray, but rather Mode teaching and leading a prayer.

“As a public school, even as a charter school, it has to abide by state-church separation,” stated Patrick Elliot, a lawyer with the FFRF.

Joe Maimone, the headmaster of the school, gave everyone a pat on the back, except the FFRF which pushed to change the policy.

"We have an amazing and hard working board of directors and we have an amazing group of parents who support the school," said Maimone. "We have a great vision of success for the future."

Sources: The Digital Courier, / Image Credit: Taber Andrew Bain