FFRF objects to school board prayers in Orrville, Ohio

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is urging Orrville City School District in Ohio to discontinue starting its board meetings with Christian prayers.

A concerned district resident and parent contacted the Freedom From Religion Foundation to report that Orrville City School Board meetings open with prayer. Although the prayers are not listed on the agenda, they reportedly regularly occur after the Pledge of Allegiance. The prayer witnessed by the district parent was Christian, ending with “our savior Jesus Christ.” Students were present at the meeting.

Yet another disturbing factor is that a board member promotes his personal religious beliefs at board meetings and has been hostile to the expression of other religious views, including the view that board policy discussions should be religiously neutral. It was reported that Wayne Steiner voted against a mask mandate for the schools because, as he explained in the public meeting, it would not change God’s plan for how long someone is destined to be here.

Nonreligious Americans make up the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. population by religious identification — 35 percent of Americans are non-Christians, and this includes the more than one in four Americans who now identify as religiously unaffiliated.

“Students and parents have the right — and often have reason — to participate in school board meetings. It is coercive, embarrassing and intimidating for nonreligious citizens to be required to make a public showing of their nonbelief (by not participating) or else to display deference toward a religious sentiment in which they disbelieve,” stresses FFRF Staff Attorney Karen Heineman in a letter to the Board of Education President for Orrville City Schools, Greg Roadruck.

“Public schools exist to educate, not to indoctrinate,” says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “The board presumes to speak for the religious belief of the entire population of Orville City — a presumption that is quite certainly false.”

FFRF is a national nonprofit organization with more than 35,000 members, including almost 970 members and two chapters in Ohio. Our purposes are to protect the constitutional principle of separation between state and church, and to educate the public on matters related to nontheism.

Freedom From Religion Foundation

Send this to a friend