The Freedom From Religion Foundation stopped a prayer group co-sponsored by a Baptist church and school officials that walked through the hallways of Hardy Elementary School in Chattanooga, Tenn. This is the latest in a long string of violations FFRF has complained about in that district.
Love Fellowship Baptist Church hosted an after-school prayer group which would walk through the halls praying once each month. Hardy Elementary teachers and school administrators reportedly participated, and led students, recruited via take-home fliers, in the religious ritual.
A Times Free Press article quoted Principal Anetta Ferguson and Assistant Principal Rick Hall about their involvement in the prayer group. Principal Ferguson stated, "I want the children to have a great day every day regardless of what goes on outside."
FFRF Senior Staff Attorney Rebecca Markert sent a letter on August 29 to the school district's lawyer, detailing the legal problems with the violation:
"Although the walks are evidently organized by a private church, prominent participation of the administration in these events and the administration's promotion of these events in a newspaper article and through fliers indicates school co-sponsorship and endorsement of this event. As you know, it is unlawful for school-sponsored events to include prayer."
On September 23, the school district responded by assuring that the prayer group practice wouldn't happen again. Training on how to avoid unconstitutional actions was also promised to be provided.