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More City Councils, School Districts Are Saying No to Prayer

07-07-2016

Many state, local and county institutions are dropping the time-honored tradition of prayer after secularist groups have told them it is unconstitutional.

South Carolina

One school board council in Moncks Corner, South Carolina, is now opening their meetings with a moment of silence instead of reciting the Lord's Prayer.

Board Chairman Jim Hayes called for the change after American United for Separation of Church and State warned them the prayer violated the First Amendment. 

They argued that the tradition "exploits the prayer opportunity to advance the Christian faith" because the Lord's Prayer is "specifically and uniquely a Christian prayer," the Post and Courier reported.

Hayes said they had alternative options: face a long and expensive lawsuit, observe a moment of silence, remove the invocation, invite various groups to prayer, or read a non-sectarian prayer. 

Many board members disagreed however. 

"I'm not in favor of a moment of silence or, calling it what it really is, a moment of censorship," Mac McQuillin, a local attorney representing District 2, said. "Prayer isn't divisive. It unites us."

Arkansas

Meanwhile, an Arkansas school superintendent has dropped prayer from all future graduation ceremonies because the Freedom from Religion Foundation threatened them.

The group said one citizen complained after a high school graduation ceremony included an invocation and benediction. 

"I don't know how many people were in attendance, 3,000 maybe, I'm glad we didn't offend the other 2,999," superintendent Randy Barrett said.

"Prayer has been student-led prayer...not from a staff member or administration, but from the students. It`s just been part of our ceremony for as long as I`ve been here,"  he told KFSM-TV.

Florida

The Pensacola City Council is weighing the future of an opening prayer after a representative of the Satanic Temple West Florida was scheduled to deliver the invocation.

David Suhor was scheduled after months of petitioning the city, but the council wants to stop it. 

"I didn't feel like I could just deny him myself," Council President Charles Bare said. "But if the council takes a vote to decide not to have invocations in the future, that would stop him from delivering his message."

North Carolina

In North Carolina, a council member in Indian Trail sought to add non-denominational prayers to meetings, but the measure was never brought up. 

Newest member Gordon Daniels said he was deeply disturbed after his measure was ignored and other councilmembers made negative comments about prayer. 

Daniels said he plans to fight on the issue. 

"I think it would be in the interest of the community to have a discussion on this end," he said. 
 

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