Prayer in school has been a hot topic in the separation of church and state debate since the 1960s, and 55 years later, it isn’t losing steam.
While most people agree that a school should not be able to force children into adopting one ideology and practicing that faith during school hours or activities, students have been allowed to pray on their own.
But now the Harrison County School Board in West Virginia wants to change that.
Acting on complaints from the Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF), the board is forcing all teachers, coaches, and staff, to put a stop to any form of student prayer that they see at school or a school-related event.
All staff are required to sign off on the memo banning prayer in school. The complaints were filed after it came to the FFRF’s attention that an athletic team had led a prayer at an unspecified event and invited another team to join them.
Coaches and employees of the district were not involved in the prayer.
WDTV reached out to the community to gauge reaction, and there are many people disappointed over the decision.
Among them, Upshur County resident Linda Long.
“I’m not a fan of that. I believe that anyone who wants to say a prayer, or any student that wants to say a prayer should have that right. I do not believe that any of that should be governed by schools.”
Still others, like Randolph County resident Steve Fox, had no problem with the decision, stating that if a student leads a prayer, it might pressure others to join in.
Assistant Harrison County Superintendent of Schools Anthony Fratto authored the memo banning prayer in schools and admitted that he was “frustrated” by it in comments to Connect-Bridgeport.
“I’m frustrated by it, but sometimes you have to do what you have to do. If that’s the law, I can’t in good conscience leave the school board exposed to legal penalties down the road. We don’t need the financial penalty and bad press that comes with that.”
As for students, many of those surveyed by both sites do not believe that the school’s decision will have any effect whatsoever on the amount of prayer in schools and that they believed their classmates would continue regardless.
Do you think prayer in schools should be banned for students as well as adults? Sound off in the comments section.
[Image via ShutterStock]