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Public school doused with holy water (Aug. 16, 2011)

“Every inch of school was blessed that evening as Rev. Jaison Mangalath of Holy Ghost Catholic Church led two dozen people around the school for their annual prayer rally.” That’s from an Aug. 11 story in the Opelousas [La.] Daily World. The priest and a church group called the Blood Covenant Women of God were led through the public Opelousas High School by Principal Rodney Johnson prior to the start of the school year. “Mangalath blessed classrooms, hallways, offices and meeting areas, sprinkling holy water throughout the school as the group followed behind and recited the Hail Mary,” the paper reported. Other prayers were also said.

FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor, on behalf of Louisiana members, sent a letter of objection Aug. 12 to Superintendent Michael Nassif and the St. Landry Parish School Board. The Daily World reported Aug. 16 that the church group had asked Nassif for permission to hold the rally and had been denied. Unbeknownst to Nassif, however, Johnson had already approved the rally. Johnson claimed not to know about Nassif’s denial. Johnson could be disciplined, Nassif said, adding that principals will be reminded of separation of church and state rules at an upcoming monthly meeting.