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FFRF calls for S.C. faculty board members stop prayer or pay $200,000 in authorized charges

Freedom From Faith Basis as soon as once more asks the Dorchester Faculty District Two Faculty Board to cease opening conferences with prayer. In reality, the group needs all S.C. establishments to cease faculty board prayer earlier than every assembly.

Following notification that faculty board conferences and different school-sponsored occasions started with prayer in 2021, FFRF contacted the district. The board agendas confirmed that every assembly started with an “invocation” led by members of the board. The prayers reportedly had been at all times Christian. When the state/church watchdog contacted the district, it was knowledgeable that issues concerning school-sponsored prayer had been addressed in accordance with state and federal legislation.

A neighborhood member reported that the board resumed opening conferences in 2022 with a Christian prayer led by board members. Agendas verify that each assembly has opened this manner since September.

The FFRF as soon as once more requires a direct finish to this apply.

Employees Lawyer Chris Line writes, “We request that the board stop together with prayer at its conferences so as to defend college students, their mother and father, and the local people.

Prayers provided at school-sponsored occasions have constantly been struck down by the Supreme Courtroom, which cites governmental favoritism in the direction of faith as violating the Institution Clause.

Related rulings have been made by different courts. The newest judgment in opposition to faculty board prayer got here from the ninth U.S. Circuit Courtroom of Appeals, in FFRF v. Chino Valley Unified Faculty District Board of Schooling. The dropping faculty district needed to pay FFRF greater than $200,000 in prices and attorneys charges.

There’s a proper and a purpose for college kids and fogeys to attend faculty board conferences. It’s coercive, insensitive and intimidating to power nonreligious residents to decide on between demonstrating their nonbelief by refusing to take part within the prayer or displaying deference towards a spiritual sentiment during which they don’t imagine however which their faculty board members clearly do.

Along with praying privately, board members mustn’t lend their energy and status to faith or coerce attendees into collaborating in non secular actions. Nonetheless, the board ought to chorus from lending its energy and status to faith. Together with prayer at board conferences needlessly excludes those that are among the many 37 p.c of People who are usually not Christians, together with the 49 p.c of Technology Z who’re religiously unaffiliated.

Annie Laurie Gaylor, FFRF Co-President, says the varsity board is liable for overseeing a secular public faculty system that’s welcoming to all college students and fogeys, no matter faith or none in any respect. As an alternative of partaking in exclusionary practices, faculty our bodies ought to attempt to be inclusive.

With over 40,000 members throughout the nation, the Freedom From Faith Basis consists of a whole bunch in South Carolina. The aim of our group is to guard the constitutional precept of separation between state and church, in addition to to teach the general public concerning nontheism.