FFRF was able to get a North Carolina school district to recast and rename what had been referred to as a “prayer walk” into a secular event.
A district parent reported to FFRF that Booneville Elementary School had organized and promoted a religious “prayer walk.” Reportedly, the annual event had been promoted to parents and students through official school communication channels. In a “back to school” message, families and community members were invited to visit classrooms and “leave positive notes of support, prayer and good wishes for the school year.” It was also promoted on the school’s official Facebook page.
“Public schools have a constitutional obligation to remain neutral toward religion. . . Yadkin County Schools serves a diverse population that consists of not only Christians, but also atheists and agnostics who do not believe in prayer,” FFRF Staff Attorney Christopher Line wrote to Yadkin County Schools Superintendent Todd Martin. “Holding a district-sponsored religious event each year sends an official message that excludes the nearly 30 percent of the American population who are nonreligious.”
A response from the district’s legal counsel assured FFRF that the issue has been addressed.
“After discussing this matter with [the superintendent], we are advising the principal of Boonville Elementary School to change the name of this event to ‘Annual Community Walk’ and to exclude the word ‘prayer’ from any description or advertisement of the event.”