Mississippi advocates for prayer in school

FFRF 'enlightens' prayer pushing governor

The Freedom From Religion Foundation has protested Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant's recent declaration about the importance of public school prayer.

"As you are certainly aware, the United States Supreme Court has held that public officials may not seek to advance or promote religion," charged FFRF Co-President Dan Barker in a letter to Bryant.

Bryant addressed over 300 Mississippi high school students at the American Legion Boys State on June 5. The Associate Press reported that he said he doesn't think prayer "hurt us at all." He added that school prayer "built our character" and "it is what we should continue to do."

A day after the event, Bryant was at it again. He told reporters that the school day should begin with a prayer, "to let people know there is a God" and that "those children should know that he does care about them, particularly within their classroom."

FFRF takes issue with Bryant's blatant disregard for the Constitution and abuse of his position as a state governor.

"Children may pray individually according to their own desires, when and if they wish, throughout the school day, so long as it is not disruptive. This type of personal conduct simply bears no relationship to government-fostered, promoted or endorsed prayers which our courts have ruled impermissible. Prayers imposed by the schools would bear the imprint of the state," wrote Barker.

FFRF has been battling the school prayer issue in Mississippi schools since last fall. In October 2011, Barker and FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor sent a memorandum to 151 Mississippi superintendents calling for an end to illegal school-sponsored prayer. FFRF's memo has since stopped unlawful prayer in several Mississippi schools.

Barker said FFRF's goal is to protect "the freedom of conscience of all students, parents and visitors." 

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, based in Madison, Wis., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational charity, is the nation's largest association of freethinkers (atheists, agnostics), and has been working since 1978 to keep religion and government separate.

FFRF is a non-profit, educational organization. All dues and donations are deductible for income-tax purposes.

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