Silence is golden at N.C. school meetings (May 7, 2021)

Brunswick County Schools in Bolivia, N.C., has replaced scheduled prayer before meetings with a moment of silence.

A local resident alerted FFRF that the Brunswick County School Board had been opening its meetings with prayer, including references to “our heavenly father.” Meeting attendees, including students, have reportedly been asked to stand for the invocations, which were then led by Board Chair Ellen G. Milligan.

FFRF Legal Fellow Brendan Johnson wrote to Superintendent Jerry Oates urging the board to refrain from engaging in prayer at its meetings. When a government entity like the school board engages in prayer at its meetings, FFRF’s letter emphasized, it violates the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution by showing preference for religious belief.

In a letter of response from the board’s attorney, FFRF was informed that the board has decided to instead open its meetings with a one-minute period of silence.

Freedom From Religion Foundation