FFRF stops prayer by school boards in Indiana and Pa.

School boards in Pennsylvania and Indiana have discontinued injecting religion into their board meetings due to intervention by FFRF.

A concerned Montrose Area School District community member in Pennsylvania alerted the state/church watchdog that the school board had a practice of opening every meeting with a recitation of the Lord’s Prayer following the Pledge of Allegiance. Additionally, all nine members of the board were reportedly participating in reciting this Christian prayer, during which students were sometimes present.

And in Indiana, the Griffith Public Schools Board of Trustees opened each of its meetings with a prayer led by a member of the board or a guest, including clergy.

In the Pennsylvania case, FFRF attorney Madeline Ziegler sent a letter to Superintendent Christopher McComb, alerting the district to the unconstitutionality of beginning official district meetings with prayer, especially when students are present.McComb informed FFRF via email that “this practice has ceased and will no longer continue.”

And in Indiana, in an email to FFRF Legal Fellow Joseph McDonald, the school board president acknowledged FFRF’s role in the policy change.

“We have concluded that it would be in the best interest of the school district to offer up a moment of silence in lieu of prayer,” wrote School Board President Kathy Ruesken.

The local newspaper reported, “As a reaction to court opinions and a letter from that watchdog group, the board unanimously eliminated the prayer in favor of being neutral with a moment of silence so people can contemplate whatever they wish.”