Community members in a Virginia county began praying the Lord’s Prayer together in unison during a school board meeting in August when a board member asked a woman not to pray publicly at the meeting.
During the Aug. 10 meeting of Suffolk Public Schools, a woman named Angela Kilgore tried to use her speaking time during the open comments section to pray for the public schools.
She invited others in attendance to pray with her and apologized if anyone objected to the prayer, but Suffolk Board Chairman Tyron Riddick stopped her, saying, “I apologize, we can’t do that,” Faithwire reports.
“I’d like to pray for our students in our school,” she said, with Riddick telling her to return to her intended topic.
“That’s not what you signed up to do, ma’am,” he said.
“That is my topic, sir,” she responded, but Riddick again told her that public prayer was not allowed.
“To pray for our schools is not permitted?” she asked.
“I believe that man should always pray,” Riddick said. “I mean, I love prayer, but this is not the place per the law.”
Riddick then asked an attorney to weigh in, but the audience began reciting the Lord’s Prayer together out loud.
A recess in the meeting was immediately called.
First Liberty Institute and Founding Freedoms Law Center, both religious freedom watchdog groups, sent a letter recently to Suffolk City School Board members in response to the incident.
“This understanding is mistaken,” the letter reads, in part. “In fact, the Constitution prohibits the government from excluding religious expression from a public forum; it certainly does not require such censorship.”
The groups asked that the school board clarify its policy.
“It is important that this situation be corrected by issuing a statement rescinding the Board’s policy of prohibiting citizens from engaging in religious expression, including prayer, during the public comment time.”
Photo courtesy: ©Unsplash/rubenhutabarat
Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for ChristianHeadlines.com since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and IBelieve.com. She blogs at The Migraine Runner.
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