We’ve seen public schools in which coaches participate in prayers. And schools where there are prayers over the loudspeakers before football games. And schools where the Board of Education prays at meetings. And schools where students formally pray at graduation.
But even in Kansas, it’s disturbing to see all of those things happening in a single school district. The Freedom From Religion Foundation explains:
A concerned parent has informed FFRF that Liberal Unified School District 480 in Liberal, Kan., has regularly incorporated prayers into several school events. This includes:
- Prayers before girls’ soccer games led by a coach-designated student.
- Prayers after boys’ soccer games done in a similar fashion as the girls’ soccer games.
- Prayers before kickoff at home football games given over the loudspeaker.
- Reportedly, students as well as Christian clergymen have led the prayers.
- An opening prayer regularly scheduled during school board meetings. According to the board’s published minutes for this school year, either a board member or local Christian clergymen gives the opening prayer.
- A designated student reciting a prayer at commencement ceremonies.
“It is unlawful for any school-sponsored event, including graduations and athletic games, to include prayer,” FFRF Staff Attorney Andrew Seidel writes to Superintendent Renae Hickert. “The Supreme Court has continually struck down formal and school-led prayer in public schools. Even when student-initiated, the Supreme Court has found prayers taking place at school-sponsored events unconstitutional.”
Any one of these issues would’ve warranted a warning letter. All of the above? This District needs to change what it’s doing if it wants to avoid a lawsuit it would inevitably lose because these aren’t grey issues. They’ve been settled in court time and time again.
You have to wonder whether their government classes are any good when the District routinely ignores the First Amendment.
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