FFRF is asking for prayer walks to cease at Mississippi schools

1CalhounCountySchoolDistrictThe Freedom From Religion Foundation is asking that several high schools in Mississippi put an end to unlawful group prayer practices.

Four high schools in the Calhoun County School District — Bruce High School, Calhoun City High School, Vardaman High School and Calhoun Academy — all recently held “prayer walks.” These walks were essentially group prayers put on and led by school faculty on public school property.

When asked about the events, multiple faculty members made remarks that were clear endorsements of Christianity. One teacher, for instance, described the purpose of the prayer walks as “to be able to lift our school systems up, to encourage them, especially those who believe, who are Christians.”

In a letter sent to the school district, FFRF writes that such prayer walks unconstitutionally entangle public school employees with with an exclusively Christian message. Public school teachers may not lead, direct or ask students to engage in prayer or otherwise endorse religion.

“The district should make certain that teachers in its schools are not unlawfully and inappropriately indoctrinating students in religious matters by encouraging them to engage in prayer during an event designed to blur the lines between religion and the public schools,” writes FFRF Associate Counsel Sam Grover.

FFRF is also addressing Bruce High School Principal Dallas Gore’s unsettling statements that through the prayer walk he and his teachers intended to “change the culture of the school,” and that the school’s children were “moldable” and “still impressionable.”

“That these prayer walks were deliberately aimed at students who are young and susceptible to religious messages adds a deeply disturbing element to this violation,” says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor.

FFRF is requesting that the school district commence an immediate investigation to ensure that teachers are not unlawfully and inappropriately indoctrinating students in religious matters. Additionally, FFRF is asking that district administrators issue a public apology for the proselytizing statements made at this years’ events.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a nationwide nonprofit organization with more than 29,000 members across the country, including many members in Mississippi. Its purpose is to protect the constitutional principle of separation between state and church and educate on matters of nontheism.

Read more here