Religion

Kansas School Board Votes Unanimously To Allow Student-Led Prayers Over School Intercom

| by Jonathan Wolfe

Here’s a bit of irony for you.

The school board of Liberal High School in Liberal, Kansas just voted unanimously to endorse student-led prayer at all school functions. The board even went as far as encouraging the school to use their intercom system for school-wide prayers.

Board member Nick Hatcher proposed the idea.

“We do live in a democratic society, and I personally feel like our community would support that decision, regardless of the rest of the world,” Hatcher said.

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Hatcher also encouraged the school to reinstate pre-game prayers broadcasted on the stadiums PA system. Liberal High quit doing this several years ago amid concerns that the action would be perceived as a religious endorsement from the school – something made illegal by the Supreme Court in 1962.

“I would like to see us bring prayer back to the games,” Hatcher said. “I have struggled with that — not having prayer at our activities — because it’s ‘not the thing to do,’ but if the board thought it was important enough that they would support it, and defend it if the time came, I’d like to ask that we do that at our next meeting.”

While student-led prayers are perfectly legal, using a school intercom system to broadcast the prayer is not. In the 2000 Santa Fe Independent District vs. Doe decision, the Supreme Court explicitly ruled that allowing students to use the PA system for prayer violates the establishment clause.

Apparently, the Liberal school board is willing to take their chances.

“We sit up here like hypocrites, and we pray,” said board member Sutherland-Abbott, “but we won’t let our kids do it.”

According to board member Matt Friederich, the board opens every meeting with a prayer.

Before voting on the measure, school Superintendant Paul Larkin warned the members about the possible legal ramifications of their decision.

“We can have student-led prayer, but if we turn away certain groups — if you have someone who wants to serve up a prayer or a thought that isn’t the mainstream thinking — you’re going to have a problem,” Larkin said. The thing to do is take it to [board attorney] Mr. Yoxall and get some advice.”

The board went forward with measure anyways, which was unanimously approved. Something tells me an ACLU lawsuit is coming in the not-too-distant future. 

Sources: Leader and Times, Raw Story