No more “blessings” at mandatory employee meetings in South Carolina school district (November 19, 2013)

FFRF successfully ended prayers during annual state in-service meetings for transportation employees at the Berkeley County School District in South Carolina. 

The complainant informed FFRF Staff Attorney Patrick Elliott that formal prayer had become a part of the mandatory event in the current and preceding years. Elliott addressed the unconstitutionality of the practice in a letter to Superintendent Rodney Thompson on Oct. 24:

“The prayer at District in-service meetings appears to a reasonable observer to be an endorsement of religion, particularly Christianity. This is exactly the type of government endorsement that is prohibited by our Constitution’s Establishment Clause, and could also be perceived as workplace harassment.”

An attorney representing the District administration responded on Nov. 19: “While there was no blessing or prayer offered as part of a program or included as a formal part of the inservice, an employee did offer a blessing for the food before the employees ate the meal. There was certainly no intent to offend any employees. Further, in order to avoid any misunderstandings in the future, the District will not offer a blessing before the meal.”

Freedom From Religion Foundation