Suggestion to Replace Prayer with Moment of Silence Draws Boos at Franklin County School Board Meeting

The Franklin County School Board in Tennessee had a very important discussion this week at their monthly work session: Should the Parent-Teacher Organization pray at meetings?

The school board’s attorney suggested that a moment of silence would be okay, but a prayer crossed the line — Since the PTO was a school-sponsored group, it was violating the law.

But the residents of the community didn’t accept any of that reasoning.

School board chairman Kevin Caroland called the meeting to order. At the point on the agenda for a moment of silence, a majority of the audience prayed aloud.

It only got worse from there. Check out what happened when the only voice of reason on the school board suggested they should all listen to the lawyer:

“I am afraid I disagree with all of you,” [board member Chris McDonough] said. “North Lake is an excellent school, and we want to make sure as many parents as possible participate in the PTO.” Prayer at the meetings could be a “stumbling block,” he said. “These are things that make people feel excluded.”

McDonough’s remarks were met with boos from members of the audience.

“There are people in this county who don’t go to your churches and people who don’t believe what you do,” he said. “A moment of silence lets people be together, and no one feels alienated,” he said.

Caroland had to quiet the crowd so that McDonough could finish his comments.

This is a crowd that wants their kids’ school district to get sued.

This is a crowd that cares more about the expansion of their churches than the education of their children.

This is a crowd that doesn’t get that Liberty Counsel’s offer of “free” legal assistance won’t cover the attorney’s fees the district (and taxpayers) will have to pay the Freedom From Religion Foundation after losing the case. (Just ask the Jackson City Schools.)

This is a crowd that needs to be ignored so the people in charge can abide by the law and do what’s right for the students.

(Thanks to Mike for the link)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Supertoastfairy

    It really pisses me off when people seem to think that the law excludes their religious beliefs. That anything that contradicts their faith or treats their faith like any other religion, WHICH IT IS, it suddenly becomes anti-religious. An attack on their beliefs. We see this too much in America, especially among Christians.

  • Pepe

    Wait for “It’s freedom OF religion. Not freedom FROM religion”

  • WallofSleep

    If this were just about religious liberty, the right to worship and pray aloud, these people could just as easily pray aloud outside of the building prior to the meeting. But you, I, and the very people perpetrating this superstitious nonsense know better.

    This is not about religious liberty. This is about them trying to cling to their privileged position which allows them to use the force of gov’t to shove their brand of superstition down everyone elses’ throats. That position of privilege is quickly slipping away, thankfully.

  • WallofSleep

    The standard response to that should be “Fine. Tomorrow we will begin teaching your school children about the glories of Islam and it’s holy prophet Mohammed as if it were the gospel truth. Next month… Hinduism.”

  • David McNerney

    I think they did that recently. It didn’t go down too well.

  • Miss_Beara

    And watch their heads collectively implode.

    And wait for the “This is a Christian country! None of this Islam garbage, we already have one in the White House!”

  • Miss_Beara

    But dis der heer iz uh Chrishun Nashun. Anythang less iz persekushun. Won nayshun unter GAWD. Iff u dunt lyke ut, leeve!

  • WallofSleep

    Then reply with “But you just said it is ‘freedom OF religion, not freedom FROM religion’. You really need to make up your mind. Get back to me when you do.”

  • WallofSleep

    I call No True Christian Nationalist. A True Christian Nationalist would have said “If yoo don’t leik et yoo kin git owt!!!”

  • WallofSleep

    Ooh. Link, pretty please.

  • closetatheist

    Why would we expect any different? Their religious upbringing saw to it that their intellectual development came to a screeching halt at the age of 7….of course they can’t vocalize their desires in any way other than immature gruntings and attempts to silence those they disagree with by shouting louder than them. In fact, I may be impressed that they managed to all pick one word and all yell it together….

  • Tyrrlin Flamestrike

    Ah, but if that word were JEEEEEEEZZZZUUUUSSSS (like it usually is), it’s pretty easy to bleat along.

  • Tyrrlin Flamestrike

    Seconding the link request. I’d love to hear about the inevitable pearl-clutcjing.

  • viaten

    But don’t some Christians argue atheism is a religion? If you hold any kind belief about anything supernatural (like non existence or non provability), or do anything that could be “meditative” (like quieting the mind during collective silence), it’s “religion”, right? And some atheists are “congregating” now. I think atheists got the OF/FROM thing covered.

  • rustygh

    this is a crowd of conservative voters that are under educated, just the way the GOP likes them.

  • Texan

    This is mob rule, and should be prosecuted as such.

    Although, people said the same to me about Wendy Davis’ filibuster, and I called it justifiable civil disobedience.

    I guess the difference is, the Texas crowd was predominately polite and quiet until the senate leaders broke their own rules. It sounds like this meeting was a mob shouting down those who tried to follow the rules.

  • A3Kr0n

    I would like to open this meeting with a short prayer to my god, Ahura Mazda:

  • rtanen

    Wait, if and only if you don’t like being in a Christian nation you should leave? This will have an amazing impact on emigration policy! Apparently there is only one reason to leave the country: lack of christianity. Forget wanting to live in some other Christian nation, conducting international missionary work, or fighting wars. Everyone must be non-Christian to leave.

  • busterggi


  • PrimateZero

    Gawd bess Merrrka!!!

  • C.L. Honeycutt

    I’m so happy to know that I’m not the only one who always thinks that!

  • LesterBallard

    They could go into their closets and pray, just like Jebus said.

  • David

    And here’s the irony to the whole process.
    Matthew 6:6

  • Mick

    From a distance it looks like the Christians are really interested in the business of saying prayers at school meetings, but up close you’ll discover that is not the case.

    They couldn’t care less about the prayer. In fact, they hope the prayer is banned so they can play the martyr and show the baby Jesus how much they suffer for their faith!

    In the meantime, all they are doing is putting on a show for their peers. “Look at me everyone. Watch how vigorously I attack anyone who doesn’t think like us. Aren’t I just the most fabulous Christian you’ve ever seen?”

  • Spazticus
  • David McNerney

    Very sorry for not replying, time zones and all that. Yes, I did mean the 5 pillars thing that Spazticus kindly linked to.

  • Erica

    Are these the same people who say that bullying is wrong? Because booing someone for expressing an unpopular opinion sounds kind of similar to bullying to me…

  • Linda Lee

    Not quickly enough!

  • Atheist Bunneh

    But if you do it for Jesus, not only is it not bullying, but if you don’t get to spew your righteousness then you are the bullied victim!