FFRF stops school board prayer in Pa. district (March 12, 2021)

A Pennsylvania public school district has discontinued injecting religion into each school board meeting due to intervention by FFRF.

A concerned Montrose Area School District community member alerted FFRF that the school board had a practice of opening every meeting with a recitation of the Lord’s Prayer following the Pledge of Allegiance. Additionally, all nine members of the board were reportedly participating in reciting this Christian prayer, during which students were sometimes present.

FFRF sent a letter to Superintendent Christopher McComb, alerting the district to the unconstitutionality of beginning official district meetings with prayer, especially when students are present.

“Students and parents have the right — and often have reason — to participate in school board meetings,” FFRF Staff Attorney Madeline Ziegler wrote. “It is coercive, embarrassing and intimidating for nonreligious citizens to be required to make a public showing of their nonbelief or else to display deference toward a religious sentiment in which they do not believe, but which their school board members clearly do.”

FFRF requested the district respect the First Amendment by refraining from scheduling prayers at official board meetings — and its plea had the desired effect. McComb informed FFRF via email that “this practice has ceased and will no longer continue.”

Freedom From Religion Foundation