About the School Prayer That Caused Students to Miss Class…

Yesterday, I posted about Lumpkin County High School (Georgia) and how 50 students there prayed together (with an adult coach) for two hours at the beginning of the school day, causing them to miss class. Superintendent Dewey Moye decided he wouldn’t punish anybody over the incident.

Well, I have to apologize.

I apparently got a very important detail of the story wrong and I need to take this moment to correct my mistake.

The prayer wasn’t two hours long.

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Two Religious Schools in New Jersey May Receive More Than $11,000,000 in Taxpayer Money

Governor Chris Christie’s administration in New Jersey recently proposed how to spend more than $1,300,000,000 in “construction projects at colleges and universities.” What’s not up for debate is the amount of money — the voters approved funding the state’s institutions of higher learning for most of this amount (later combined with other technology and infrastructure funds) back in November. What is up for debate is how all that money should be doled out — which schools should get how much? That’s a conversation the people of New Jersey need to have with their representatives and it’s one that state representatives are having with the Governor’s administration.

What’s particularly noteworthy to those of us who support church/state separation are two of the 46 proposed recipients. They’re both religious schools:

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Jessica Ahlquist to Receive Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Award

Last year, young science advocate and activist Zack Kopplin was honored with one of four “Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment” awards (named after the Playboy founder) and accepted it at the famed mansion

They just announced one of this year’s winners and she, like Zack, is well known to the atheist community and very deserving of the honor. So congratulations to Jessica Ahlquist :)

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50 High School Students Ditch Class and Get Away With It… Because of Jesus

Even atheists will tell you they have no legal problem with students and teachers who pray during school. As long as its on their own time, it’s not disruptive, and there’s no coercion from adults involved, it’s usually not an issue at all.

But what happened at Lumpkin County High School (Georgia) last Wednesday appears to be a very clear violation of school policy (the highlight for me comes at the 1:28 mark below, for totally stereotypical reasons…):

Controversy is brewing in a northern Georgia community after about 50 students prayed together Wednesday morning when school officials said they should have been in class.

The spontaneous prayer at Lumpkin County High School has become the talk of the town. Lumpkin County Schools Superintendent Dewey Moye said that a student started the prayer in a coach’s office at 7:30 a.m. and it lasted more than two hours.

“It was a student-led initiative. The student showed up at the coach’s office and the coach did pray with them and it went into the school day, over into the first period of the day,” Moye said.

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Even the Student Athlete Punished for His ‘Gesture to God’ Now Says His Religious Freedom Wasn’t Violated

A few days ago, I posted about Columbus High School athlete Derrick Hayes, who ran the anchor leg for his track team’s 4 x 100-meter relay. His relay team’s time would have qualified them for the state tournament… but then something wacky happened:

As Hayes crossed the finish line in first, he “put his hand by his ear and just pointed to the heavens,” Hayes’ father said.

Officials ruled that the gesture violated a state scholastic rule against excessive celebration, which includes raising one’s hands. The team was disqualified, and barred from competing at the state championships.

A lot of Christian and mainstream sites argued that this could have been tantamount to religious discrimination. All he did was thank God! Why was he punished for that?! (Keep in mind that there was no video released to the public of this display or the aftermath.)

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