FFRF takes on Alabama school district “prayer caravan,” daily prayers

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is working to derail a "prayer caravan" that is scheduled for August 10 that flouts church-state separation.

The "prayer caravan" will entail school district leaders and members going to every district school in Cullman County, Ala., to say a 10-15 minute prayer. FFRF noted the inappropriate event will alienate nonreligious members of the Cullman County Schools community and inject religion into what should be a secular public school system.

The school system's official "prayer caravan" event description on its website ended with, "It will be a time to lift our schools up to God and ask His blessings for the upcoming school year."

FFRF Staff Attorney Andrew Seidel sent a strong letter of complaint to Cullman County Schools Superintendent Billy Coleman on July 22, saying that the event should be canceled.

Hours after FFRF emailed the letter, Cullman County Schools removed all information about the "Prayer Caravan" from the official school system website and Facebook page.

Seidel also told Cullman County Schools that it must cancel its unconstitutional practice of the daily recitation of the Lord's Prayer over the schools' loudspeakers every morning. This blatantly violates Supreme Court precedent, notably Abington v. Schempp, a decision celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

Ellery Schempp, who instigated the landmark Lord's Prayer challenge as a teenager, will be speaking at FFRF's 36th national convention in Madison, Wis., at the end of September. Learn more here.

Cullman County Schools thinly veiled its egregious constitutional violation by calling the daily prayers "optional." FFRF pointed out that students cannot escape prayers broadcast over the intercom.

Seidel noted public schools have no right to enforce a religious agenda on a captive audience of students and that schools may not host even "optional" prayer.

FFRF awaits further response from Coleman and Cullman County Schools.

FFRF, a state-church watchdog, is based in Madison, Wis., and has more than 19,000 members nationwide, including a chapter, The Alabama Freethought Society.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, based in Madison, Wis., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational charity, is the nation's largest association of freethinkers (atheists, agnostics), and has been working since 1978 to keep religion and government separate.

FFRF is a non-profit, educational organization. All dues and donations are deductible for income-tax purposes.

FFRF has received a 4 star rating from Charity Navigator

 

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