Another Young Hero Fights Against High School Prayers March 19, 2010

Another Young Hero Fights Against High School Prayers

Alexandria High School in Alabama is a public school where the administrators are uneducated about the law. They thought it was okay for students to recite Christian prayers over the public address system.

It took a young man (who wishes to remain anonymous) to challenge the practice:

“Every day in the morning we would have student-led prayer over the PA system and I looked this up. It’s illegal,” the student said. “It wasn’t just me; there were a bunch of other students who wanted it stopped.”

He said he demanded it stop in a voicemail sent to Superintendent Judy Stiefel. He also contacted the American Civil Liberties Union by e-mail and by hand-written letter to complain about the issue.

The student requested he not be named in this story because he expected his classmates would not react well to his actions.

The student said he was motivated to take action because he didn’t think it was fair for the student body, which he described as overwhelmingly “fundamentally Christian” to subject all students to Christian prayers and Bible verses.

“What bothered me about it is that it’s illegal and I don’t want the school breaking the law like that,” the student said. “I want to stand up for fairness. I’m a person that embraces all religion and I love everyone.”

I’m sure the students know who it is, but that’s besides the point.

All it took was one complaint (and the full effect of people who know the law) to get this changed. Anyone could’ve done it. You have to wonder why no teacher made it happen (including the tenured ones).

The comments on the Anniston Star‘s website are scary. People think their religion is being trampled upon. Of course they’re wrong. Students can pray before school, after school, or even during school as long as they are not disruptive.

But other students should not be subject to their religious practices. Public school is not the place for kids to hijack an intercom so they can out-Jesufy the other Christians. It’s a practice that needs to be abandoned.

(Thanks to Brian for the link!)

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  • Alan E.

    One commenter on the site said:

    The student needs to reread what was written in the First Amendment… to not prohibit the free exercise of a religion.

    Apparently they didn’t read the rest of that Amendment.

    Another commenter said:

    In the Library: As any truly saved person will tell you, the only book any educated person needs to read is their Bible. Therefore, you should regard with great suspicion any of the many extraneous other books that have been written since. You will find that your school library is little more than a landfill for rancid secular trash. Pornographic ideas and sights lurk behind almost every binding. For example, “Gray’s Anatomy” is little more than a dirty little excuse to ogle body parts too crude to mention in something ladies might be reading. This book purports to show the inside of the human body, but not one single peel-away transparent layer is devoted to the most important thing in everyone – their soul. This omission is nothing short of Christ-hating propaganda. If your school library has pictures of naked statues in any of the books, do the right thing and use a large-tipped black marker to cover the offending images, or, better yet, rip the pages out completely (your Daddy’s old fashion razor works nicely!). Many schools have large, leather bound books containing so-called “Greek art”– these are full of smut. Check these books out, using another student’s name, and burn them. Do the same with books mentioning in any way the other (false) non-Baptist religions, attempting to teach demonic tongues like Spanish or French, and books that lie and say anything positive about democrats, homosexuals and unions. Likewise, destroy all books containing negative information on Richard Nixon or any republican. In many cases you can simply rip out the insides of the book and glue a Bible in its place.

    I can’t tell if this one is a Poe or not. It’s too good either way.

  • MaleficVTwin

    That second one has to be a Poe. It’s priceless. 🙂

  • Alan E.

    To be expected, many commenters discuss the end times being near. I want to look away, but I just can’t.

  • Jim

    The link above is to the US Department of Education’s guidelines for religion and prayer in public schools.

    I haven’t gone through this whole page but the information I went through to find it wasn’t very encouraging.

  • They are trying to get around the Constitution by having a student led prayer as opposed to a teacher led prayer.

  • Killer_Bee

    Every day in the morning we would have student-led prayer over the PA system

    Every day, eh? I’d complain too if it’s during class time. This sounds even worse than that waste of a minute of silence.

    To be expected, many commenters discuss the end times being near.

    Then they should be happy, for their redemption draws nigh.

  • Charles

    Support the ACLU:

  • Killer_Bee

    Support the ACLU

    I’d rather not. Not everything requires the intervention of a team of lawyers.

  • Kudos to this student for standing up and for his reason (not wanting the school to break any laws). It’s amazing how many christian fundies will break the law, in the name of god, jesus and prayer, assuming that it’s ok since it’s furthering their belief system and that god’s laws trump local and federal laws.

    The one commenter over on that link – takingastand – needs to sit down and shut the hell up. That person simply doesn’t get it.

  • Greg

    I so want a group of students to organise an islamic/hindu/scientology/etc. prayer in their school, just to see the Christian reaction…


    That second one has to be a Poe, btw. (Please…)

  • Patrick

    What is a “Poe”? I assume you aren’t referring to Edgar Allan.

  • Chris

    You’d have to be pretty brave to try and counter with non-Christian prayers. This kid had to stay anonymous just to make a valid complaint!

    I fear the backlash against the individual would not be worth it, but it would be pretty interesting to see the reactions.

    It is certainly good comedy skit material 🙂

  • Wendy

    My FSM. If some of those posts aren’t PROOF that the schools need to focus on education, I don’t know what would be.


  • Nick

    I suppose I never realized how nice it is to be in the North….who knows what life would be like in a rural high school in the deep South??

  • Jim

    Have to agree with Nick. I grew up in Lansing, MI and for some mysterious reason the christian schools are christian schools and the public schools are secular schools with, as I can remember, a strong push for science and math. I loved the constant field trips to the Arboretum and the Nature Center to study creepy crawly bugs or flowers or just ecology in general. I do remember saying the pledge of allegiance every day but never any prayers. In fact, I had a really ass kickin teacher that read from a book about Greek Mythology. She told a different story to the class every week. Mrs. Goulding, 4th grade.

  • Ron in Houston

    A bit of recycling here –

    It’s more related to graduations –

    It’s written by a religiously affiliated group trying to allow those groups to force the issue –

    But this article is not a bad legal discussion of the whole issue of student lead prayer.

  • SH

    The wall posts and comments from this Facebook group who oppose the decision to remove the prayers are even scarier:

    That group has over a 1000 members already, while the group that agrees with the decision ( has 5 members.

    I live in Alabama, and plan on becoming a high school biology teacher. I can only imagine what will happen when I become one of the apparently few teachers who teach evolution…

  • muggle

    yet again, I fear for my grandson’s education. I am relieved he’s in the North.

  • Kudos to the student! I just hope he/she doesn’t get caught up in the backlash they are receiving on the internet – cyber bullying can be a really hurtful thing.

    Also, that second comment must be a Poe. It’s far too well written. And Nixon? C’mon.

  • fritzy

    I just don’t get this–I was a fundamentalist Xtian in junior high and still very xtain (but less of a literalist) in highschool and although I prayed at the start of the day, before tests, etc and believed that society would be better off if everyone else did the same, I never thought it would be OK to force this kind of thing on anyone in such a manner. I never believed school was the appropriate place for such activity. Of course I didn’t grow up in the South. I never realized how progressive Lincoln Nebraska was in comparison.

    More proof that religion, while often claiming to be the catlyst of empathy, actually appears to lead to much less understanding of others, particularly if they are different than you.

    Incidentally, my grades improved as I became less religious. So much for the prayer.

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