Even though they were warned there could be trouble, a Kansas school board nevertheless voted to allow student-led prayers and even use of the school's public address system to do so.
At its meeting on September 23, the school board in Liberal voted unanimously (7-0) to allow student-led prayers at all school activities and to provide access to the school's public address system. According to the Leader & Times newspaper, the item was added “spontaneously” to the agenda near the end of that meeting.
“We do live in a democratic society, and I personally feel like our community would support that decision, regardless of the rest of the world,” said board member Nick Hatcher, who introduced the idea.
“I think that’s one of the greatest things we’ve ever done,” said fellow board member Tammy Sutherland-Abbott afterwards – who also commented that she supported the idea because she was tired of allowing the opinions of a few in America to dictate what “the rest of us” could do.
Matt Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, tells OneNewsNow that the key issue to note about the board’s action is that the prayers will be initiated by students.
“What we have here is not the school speaking, but the school allowing the students to speak,” he explains. “So that, I think, is a critical difference here where the students are able to speak. If other students are able to use other venues to announce their clubs or to give inspirational quotes or messages, then these students should be allowed to do the same thing and to speak from a religious or a particular Christian viewpoint.”
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Leading up to the vote, school officials were concerned that students praying over the PA system could be violating federal law. Staver, an attorney, says he's willing to provide guidance on that issue.
“Well, certainly using the intercom is a major consideration. I’m not sure if they’ve fleshed out all the different rules and procedures for how this will be implemented, but certainly that could be done at a later time.”
The board sidestepped Superintendent Paul Larkin's caution that this policy could generate legal challenges.