October 7, 2014

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: 212-549-2666, media@aclu.org

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – In a move that would violate public school students’ freedom of religion, some members of the Williamson County school board expressed a desire Monday night to replace the moment of silence at school board meetings with prayer.
                                             
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has declared that prayers at school board meetings are unconstitutional.  In Coles ex rel. Coles v. Cleveland Bd. Of Educ., the Court held that the “the practice of opening each school board meeting with a prayer has the primary effect of endorsing religion.”

The following can be attributed to Hedy Weinberg, ACLU of Tennessee executive director:

“Williamson County students come from a variety of religious and non-religious backgrounds.  The schools should seek to create an environment that is welcoming and conducive to learning for all students.  When school administrators impose their own particular religious beliefs on students, it not only undermines the students’ own religious freedom, it’s unconstitutional.  We urge the Williamson County school board to ensure that all students are treated fairly, regardless of their religious beliefs, and we will be monitoring this situation closely to ensure that the school board does not institute prayer at its meetings.”

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