ACLU to Investigate Lumpkin HS Prayer Meeting

10:10 AM, May 3, 2013   |    comments
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LUMPKIN COUNTY, Ga. (WXIA) -- Teachers and students at Lumpkin County High School have been told by their school superintendent they cannot hold any more prayer meetings at school during class time.

Not everyone agrees with the superintendent's decree.

And similar cases that have ended in lawsuits, no matter what religion was involved, have all ended with court orders prohibiting the religious activity.

Wednesday morning at Lumpkin County High School, before classes had started for the day, about 50 students met with at least one faculty member, a coach, to pray.

The school superintendent, Dewey Moye, said Thursday he found out about it later. He said the prayer meeting lasted at least two hours, and the students missed some class time.

So Moye has told everyone not to do that again during school.

"It's a strong belief of mine that students have a Constitutional right to pray," Moye told 11Alive News. "But during the school day they need to report to class."

On Wednesday, President Barack Obama signed a proclamation designating Thursday, May 2, as 2013's National Day of Prayer.

People in Lumpkin County and beyond are rallying in support of students and teachers participating in voluntary religious activity, on school grounds during school hours, on the National Day of Prayer and every other school day.

"If they're feeling that they need to talk to the Lord and if they want to go down there and pray with their friends, I think they should be able to, they should," said one student.

People are speaking out on Twitter:
"50 teens took a stand for Jesus."
"Props to Lumpkin High School, 15 people got saved during school."
"Seeing souls saved is the greatest feeling ever."

The ACLU of Georgia is investigating whether the school violated the U.S. Constitution.

For example, courts have ruled that students recruiting other students on school grounds during school time to convert them to Islam, with the permission of school officials, might not meet with overwhelming approval in the community. But it would have to meet the same Constitutional tests that students attempting to convert others to Christianity during school would have to meet.

And the courts have ruled that it is not a matter of local control, or local ordinances, or state law, it is a matter of federal jurisdiction since the Constitutional separation of church and state is the issue involved.

A federal court order from Florida two years ago, for example, in the case of two unnamed students versus the School Board of Santa Rosa County (near Pensacola) makes it clear: "School officials shall not participate in any way in a prayer with students" during school. And, "School officials shall not orally express personal religious beliefs to students" during school.

"We had met with the coach this morning," Superintendent Moye said, "and told him... that when a student comes to see him and wants to pray, or seek his guidance, they can do so before school or after school."

Moye decided there is no reason to discipline anyone. He considers the matter closed.

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