The Tazewell County School Board in Virginia used to begin their meetings with prayer, which we all know is absolutely illegal.
But you’ll be happy to know they’re ending that practice after realizing that it violates the law.
Instead, they’ll just invite local pastors to deliver the prayers, not realizing that’s still a big problem.
“Number one we want to comply with the law of the land, and two we want to stand up and defend our beliefs and traditions,” [board member David] Woodard said. “We’ve always prayed before our meetings, and don’t plan to stop.”
But the individual school board members will no longer be leading the prayer. Instead, invited guests, including clergy members from Tazewell County and concerned citizens, will now be charged with delivering the monthly invocation.
Woodard claims he wants the school board to be in line with the 2014 Supreme Court Greece decision. What he doesn’t get is that the law allowing outsider, sectarian invocations only applies to city council meetings and the like.
School board meetings are different beasts altogether and no prayers are allowed there at all.
Over 60 years of U.S. Supreme Court decisions have affirmed that religious ritual and indoctrination are inappropriate and illegal in public schools, including at graduations and other school-sponsored events. Over 50 years of Supreme Court precedent has firmly ruled school prayer or prayer at school events unconstitutional even if the prayer is non-denominational or supported by a majority. The First Amendment protects minority and individual rights of conscience from tyranny of the majority. A school board meeting is a school-sponsored event and is subject to Establishment Clause precedent involving public schools.
I’m tempted to say that it would just take a Satanist or atheist requesting to deliver the invocation to end the practice completely — but that should be unnecessary. Invocations of any kind have no place at school board meetings and it’s about time members of this school board educate themselves on how the law works. If they don’t do it, I promise you a church/state separation group will force their hand.
(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Brian for the link)