Prayer in schools revisited after pledge ruling

Published 1:23 pm Wednesday, July 10, 2002

By By Caitlin Channell, Staff Writer
Pledges, coins, prayers. What's under attack? Is it God or personal rights?
In 1983 prayer in public schools was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. Since then, only student initiated prayer is allowed in Alabama.
Buck Powell, Escambia County Board of Education, said that it's not the way he was raised or his belief system, but taking prayer out of the schools is a federal law and must be followed.
Bert Rice, local Atmore attorney, asserts the that the law was made to protect the student, yet many people are confused as to what the law allows.
Alabama law has printed that "nothing… shall otherwise diminish the right of any student or person to exercise his or her rights of free speech and religion, including prayer, as permitted by the United States Constitution and the Alabama Constitution on public school property."
Escambia County Middle School principle Herbert Payne said that students can bring religious material to school as long as it is for their own use, and is not given out to others. Yet some groups are allowed to give out free religious materials.
Rice said that protecting students right to pray is just as important as protecting others' rights not to.

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