A video has appeared online that shows what happened when a school board, faced with a request for permission to pray for children in the schools, shut it down.
The audience spontaneously started reciting the Lord’s Prayer, to which the board chief, Tyron Riddick, said, “At this time we’re going to go to recess. Officers … clear the room!”
The exchange starts at about the 3:39.00 time frame.
The situation was documented by CBN, which explained it happened in Suffolk, Virginia.
It was Angela Kilgore who sought to use some of her allotted time at the podium to pray for students.
The report noted she “invited others to bow their heads and join her and apologized if anyone objected.”
Riddick halted her: “I apologize, we can’t do that.”
Kilgore pressed on, asking “to pray for our students in our school,” but Riddick claimed that’s “not what you signed up to do, ma’am.”
But that is her topic, she said. She then asked audience members to join her after the meeting.
Riddick then scolded that while he doesn’t “object” to prayer, it wasn’t legally appropriate.
At that time, the Lord’s Prayer started.
“Someone can then be heard on a microphone asking if people should be removed from the room, and a recess was immediately called,” the report said.
Riddick then ordered police to clear the room.
CBN noted that both First Liberty Institute and Founding Freedoms Law Center wrote to the board afterward, explaining that it was a mistake to ban prayer.
“In fact, the Constitution prohibits the government from excluding religious expression from a public forum; it certainly does not require such censorship,” their letter said.
The teams volunteered to help the board assemble a policy that would respect citizens “constitutional rights.”
What the board cannot do, the legal teams asaid, is create a forum for debate and then discriminate against speakers based on their viewpoint.
“The U.S. Constitution also prohibits governmental actions that target religious exercise for disfavored treatment, such as by prohibiting prayer.”
They continued, “It is important that this situation be corrected by issuing a statement rescinding the board’s policy of prohibiting citizens from engaging in religious expression, including prayer, during the public comment time.”
The letter was sent to Riddick and the other board members, Heather S. Howell, Dawn Brittingham, Judith Brooks-Buck, Phyllis Byrom, Karen Jenkins and Kimberly Slingluff and other school officials.