Georgia Children Humiliated For Not Participating In School Prayer

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In the 1960s, the Supreme Court ruled that government-sponsored school prayer was unconstitutional. For the last few decades, there’s been a push by Christian conservatives and evangelicals to find ways to get prayer back into classrooms, in complete defiance of the 1st Amendment. Bear in mind that it isn’t prayers from any and all faiths that they’re encouraging, just Christianity – and more specifically, their strict conservative interpretation of it. These are also often the same folks that scream about the encroaching danger of Sharia law in the United States while trying to jam their own religious laws down the throats of the rest of us.

One of the organizations standing against the creeping tide of religion into schools has been the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF). They announced yesterday that they’ve filed a lawsuit against a Georgia school district which they had previously submitted a complaint to over prayer in an elementary school. The suit alleges that the two children of the plaintiffs were asked by teachers to pray in two different classes. From the FFRF suit:

Before lunch, Jamie’s teacher, Cel Thompson, asked students to bow heads, fold hands and pray, leading the class in a call and response prayer: “God our Father, we give thanks, for our many blessings. Amen.”

In Jesse’s first-grade class, Kaytrene Bright led students in this daily prayer: “God is great. Let us thank you for our food. Thank you for our daily prayer. Thank you. Amen.”

When the parents first learned of the prayer practice in August 2014, they immediately contacted Principal Valorie Watkins to object. The teachers responded by telling the Doe children to leave their classrooms and sit in the hallway while the rest of their classes prayed. According to Jesse, the teacher “used her mean voice” when instructing Jesse to wait in the hallway. (Source)

It is very important to note that in no way is school prayer unconstitutional so long as students pray on their own, but employees of a publicly-funded school are not allowed to promote or lead prayer from any religion. However, it seems that the employees of the Emanuel County school district chose to turn a blind eye to the practice.

Nothing in the 1962 or 1963 rulings makes it unlawful for public school students to pray or read the Bible (or any other religious book) on a voluntary basis during their free time. Later decisions have made this even clearer. In 1990, the high court ruled specifically that high school students may form clubs that meet during “non-instructional” time to pray, read religious texts or discuss religious topics if other student groups are allowed to meet. (Source)

The sad fact of the matter is that for all of their complaining about Islam and Sharia law, the religious right has absolutely zero problems forcing their religion on our children – which is exactly what is happening here. Not only did these teachers promote religion in the classroom, one of them even went so far as to allegedly preach to a child and told them that their parent was a bad person for not being a Christian.

Seriously, what’s wrong with these people?

Jesse was pressured all semester long to pray. Bright even held Jesse back from recess to explain her personal Christian beliefs at length, and said that Jesse’s mother was a bad person for not believing in God. At the end of the semester, Jesse began to join in the classroom prayers because of Bright’s and other employees’ continued coercion. (Source)

I can tell you that if my child was told that I was a bad person for not believing in the Judeo-Christian version of god, I would be utterly furious. What right does a teacher have to not only coerce a child into participating in illegal school prayer, but also tell them their parent is a bad person for not believing in the teacher’s god? It is the right of the parent to decide what (if any) religion they want their child to observe, not a teacher. Our school systems should not be a place of religious indoctrination and emotional guilt trips. If you want that, you can send your kid to Catholic school – or a madrassa.


Facebook comments

  • wendy

    Wow! That’s just sickening

  • Gary Menten

    The teacher and principal should be fired, as should the school district superintendent.

  • Pipercat

    Looks like the complaint was just filed. I’d like to see what discovery is made during the early phase.

  • Chris

    As the Doe children exited to the hallway they should have held their heads high and bleated like sheep – bah bah bah.

  • Jason

    Interesting, I searched several public news sites including CNN and there is no mention of this.

    • Pipercat
      • Jason

        Ok, so that local news station has regurgitated the details of the lawsuit, but they were careful enough to say “alleged”, the author of this piece was not. The lawsuit was just filed on Monday. Any reporting or “opinion” piece – to be unbiased – must wait to include details equally of the defence.

        If those teachers did wrong, then that will be found out in the courts and will be punished. However, without a balanced approach to reporting (there hasn’t even been time to file a defence), the author of this piece is still guilty of being impartial and being a bigot regardless of the outcome. This also applies to anyone that goes along for the ride on this without thinking about the fact there is always 3 sides to a story.

        When did we start presuming that someone is guilty until proven innocent?

      • Pipercat

        Well, you said you found no mention, so there you go.

      • UnderTheHedgeWeGo

        From the end of the second paragraph, “The suit alleges that …….”. So, there goes that entire argument.

      • Jason

        I suppose I should stand corrected then? Buried at the end of the second paragraph after some forceful conclusions by the author have already been made? And a headline that draws conclusions before the article has even begun? Most news outlets are very careful to highlight “alleged” and not bury it within the article.

        I have no problem with opinion pieces when they actually include some info for both sides. This is just poor writing and argument at best.

      • Doug

        Fox news does that all the time

  • Julia Deardorff

    I believe it is time to conduct some special classes for the teachers who continue to “pray” in class. They need some type of sensitivity/diversity training and workshops. Some instruction on cultures, religions of the world and law should be required. Maybe ask a sensitive atheist to participate in discussions. If these teachers have never been exposed to other religions or to non religious people they may not realize that it’s okay to teach only ABCs in school and religion in the churches/synagogues/mosques of choice. Education. Teachers aren’t always well informed.

    • TheRealSocialmedic

      I rather doubt fundamentalists can be educated or be made more well informed; they are indoctrinated from birth and are hell bent on passing their sickness on to the next generation.

  • Get real

    Nothing will happen. I have been around this merry go round, involved with the FFRF had many letters sent to the school, now have to drive my children to a different school 30 miles further away, and the offending school is still doing it. Same story, Daughter asked to be an a group prayer, lead by teachers. on refusal was punished for it, bullied by classmates in front of teachers who encouraged it, made to wait in hall while class prayed. Have confessions from all parties on tape, FFRF also has copies of all audio. Have current video of them doing a prayer at the High School auditorium during the xmas PTO meeting where the students from multiple schools had to be present to sing. Same room had scripture hanging on the walls. Dade country Georgia is ranked one of the lowest in terms of scores, keep them kids dump and full of god is their motto. In true christian fashion, the will lie to your face about everything to try save their butts, good thing I recorded all of it.

    • UnderTheHedgeWeGo

      There are a lot of lying Christians and only one FFRF. They can’t fix everything for everybody but they do excellent work none the less. Send them a sizable donation as I do yearly if you would like to help them in their efforts.

      • Get real

        Oh, the FFRF did what they could. They wrote the required letters, school got their attorneys involved etc. In the end we still had to pull our kids out of the school, the torment they received there was crazy. In my recordings, you can hear my daughter crying because she just wants to goto a school that believes in science… her words at 6. In order to sue, it was going to cost us 5k up front to start. Money that we just don’t have. Hopefully this will help set some precedence and I will be following the case and making sure I “share” it with the local school… But this same story is repeated over and over in all the small towns, and if you try to stick your head up to correct it then all “hell” breaks loose. I wish these parents all the luck in the world and hope that their new situation finds them in a better place.

  • Marilyn Olsen Scheffler

    Interesting that these teachers have time for all of this praying when most teachers have to struggle to get all of the required subjects covered each day in their classes. Why do these same people complain about government interference when that is exactly what they are doing!!

  • JPT

    What is attained by public displays of piety in an otherwise secular setting and why can it not be attained if the display is deferred?

  • Julia Deardorff

    This type of attitude is all over – especially GA – This was a statement made by the superintendent of schools (public schools) in Hall County GA in Dec. when a law suit was filed against the high school for holding prayers led by coaches. My children (now grown) attended GA public schools and I know the pressure and ridicule they faced if they didn’t “go along” with the religion being “promoted” in the school environment. It is rarely the teachers – it is other students – and they parrot what they hear from home, church and people in authority. No need to wonder how the superintendent really feels about atheists, agnostics, pantheists, flying spaghetti monster, jews, muslims, hindus, . . . So what do the teachers, students, parents, coaches take away from all of this? I’m sure it is that they will be defended and any student or parent who takes issue with Christian prayer will face ridicule. All the superintendent had to say was that there was a place for individual religion and prayer. Go to church, pray silently before a game or a test, pray at home with your family and join together with other students and parents in participation and celebration of all things common. Prayer is Personal!
    “This is a disappointing pattern that we have seen with this group in the past. Their desire to bring attention to their parochial interests is unfortunate,” Schofield said in an email statement.