Virginia school division ceases staff prayers (August 28, 2017)

A Virginia school division in Smithfield will no longer include prayer in its mandatory employee convocations.

It was reported to FFRF that every year at the Isle of Wight County School Division convocations, a guest speaker would lead the staff in a Christian prayer.

At the 2016 convocation, the speaker had asked employees to stand up if they believed in Jesus Christ during the prayer. FFRF Senior Attorney Patrick Elliott wrote to Superintendent Jim Thornton Aug. 23, requesting that the division end the unconstitutional prayers.

Thornton responded Aug. 28, informing FFRF that the 2017 convocation speaker had been told not to pray, which he had complied with. Thornton further informed FFRF that going forward the division planned to eliminate convocation speakers from outside organizations to avoid future violations.

Freedom From Religion Foundation