Tenn. school ends morning prayers

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The Freedom From Religion Foundation has put an end to the unconstitutional endorsement of religion at a Tennessee public high school.

It was recently reported by several community members to FFRF that Wayne County High School was broadcasting prayer over its public announcement system to students during the morning announcements. A video posted in the Tennessee River Valley News Facebook page on March 23 shows a student leading a prayer over the P.A. system with the caption, “How Fridays begin at Wayne County High School in Tennessee.”

She went on to pray:

“Good morning and let’s pray. Dear Heavenly Father, I just want to thank you for this day that you’ve given us, Lord. And Lord, I want to thank you for the protection that you continue to put over our school, God. And Lord, I just thank you for our teachers and our principals and every student that you have here, God. And let us just remember that you’re always with us and by our side throughout the schoolday, God. Dear Lord, I just ask you to let us be safe over spring break and come back safely back to school, God. I thank you for our country and I ask you to continue to keep us safe here, God, and let us just remember to make decisions that go towards you, Lord. And Lord, I thank you for your son who died on a cross for our sins, in Jesus' name I pray, Amen.”

FFRF sent a letter last month insisting that Wayne County High School stop broadcasting prayers during its morning announcements. A public school cannot legally transmit a decidedly religious message to a captive student audience, which alienates students whose religious beliefs are inconsistent with the message being promoted.

Superintendent Marlon Davis responded this week to inform FFRF that the principal of Wayne County High School has been directed to cease the prayer broadcasts.

FFRF is pleased that the district has made the decision to comply with its constitutional obligation to remain neutral in matters of religion.

“Invoking religion, especially in public schools, is inherently divisive,” says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “The district did the right thing to protect the right of conscience for all students.”

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national nonprofit organization with 33,000 members and 20 chapters across the country, including hundreds of members in Tennessee and a chapter, FFRF East Tennessee. Its purposes are to protect the constitutional principle of separation between state and church, and to educate the public on matters relating to nontheism.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, based in Madison, Wis., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational charity, is the nation's largest association of freethinkers (atheists, agnostics), and has been working since 1978 to keep religion and government separate.

FFRF is a non-profit, educational organization. All dues and donations are deductible for income-tax purposes.

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