Riverbend Elementary School forced to end daily prayer after parent complaint

The complaint claims students were required to read a prayer over the intercom after the Pledge of Allegiance.
Published: Apr. 15, 2022 at 10:09 PM CDT
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West Monroe, La. (KNOE) - A school in West Monroe is making changes after a parent complained about prayer in school.

The Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) sent a letter to the Ouachita Parish School Board demanding Riverbend Elementary School stop requiring students to participate in prayer.

“We received a complaint from a parent of a child in Riverbend Elementary letting us know that every single day, students were asked to recite a prayer during the Pledge of Allegiance,” Chris Line, an attorney with FFRF told KNOE.

Line says the Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that public schools requiring prayer is against the law.

“It’s very clear that holding this conduct of holding a prayer for all these students to participate in every day is unconstitutional,” explained Line.

Line believes that prayer could be seen as a form of state-sponsored religion.

“The government should have no say in when or where or encouraging you to pray,” said Line. “That should be your choice. It’s your personal freedom of religion. You can’t have the freedom of religion without a government that is free from religion.”

In addition, Line says his group is not anti-prayer, but they believe in the separation of church and state.

“If a student wants to pray themselves, they should be able to pray,” Line explained. “Even if a group of students wants to get together to pray, that’s their right. Problems come in when you have a school promoting it by allowing, say, for example, a loudspeaker, or PA system in this case where you are broadcasting it to an entire school.”

Ouachita Parish Superintendant Don Coker told KNOE the school would stop reciting prayer over the intercom.

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