Mt. Vernon Register-News

Community News Network

July 26, 2013

Atheist group demands Ala. schools cancel 'prayer caravan'

CULLMAN, Ala. — An atheist rights group is demanding that the superintendent of a northern Alabama school district cancel a "prayer caravan" set for early August, or face a potential lawsuit claiming the system is forcing religion on students.

The Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation sent a letter to Cullman County School Superintendent Billy Coleman this week. It asks that Coleman, who was a Christian pastor before becoming superintendent three years ago, cancel the Aug. 10 event, which would hold a 15-20 minute prayer session at each Cullman County campus before the start of the school year.

The group called the event an "especially egregious violation" of the separation of church and state, and claims the system is breaking the law by endorsing a religious event.

"It was organized in his power as superintendent, and was posted on the official school web site, so there's no doubt it was school-sponsored," FFRF attorney Andrew Seidel said. "The fact that it's happening on a Saturday, or that it's being called voluntary, is irrelevant. The fact is he organized it as superintendent, and he has to cancel it as superintendent."

Despite the threat, Coleman said the day of prayer will go on as planned. Coleman contends the prayer caravan is an unsponsored, voluntary event, comparable to the frequent prayers at the flagpole held at campuses nationwide.

"We're not going to cancel it," Coleman said. "We're not praying for our schools to make a point. We're praying for our schools because we want to thank God for the blessings he gives us, and pray for our students and communities."

The prayer caravan was started by Coleman when he took office, and it's now in its third year.

"I've always been outspoken about my faith and I'm not ashamed of that, but we'd never try to cram anything down anybody's throat,” Coleman said. “I believe the best thing we, as Christians, can do is just live our faith everyday."

The foundation specifically criticized the school system for using the district website and social media accounts to promote the event. Those posts have since been taken down.

Coleman said he was drafting a letter to the foundation to explain that the prayer caravan is not an official school system event.

1
Text Only
Community News Network
  • Does Twitter need a censor?

    Twitter decided last year to make images more prominent on its site. Now, the social network is finding itself caught between being an open forum and patrolling for inappropriate content.

    August 21, 2014

  • sleepchart.jpg America’s sleep-deprived cities

    Americans might run on sleep, but those living in the country's largest cities don't appear to run on much.

    August 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Africa goes medieval in its fight against Ebola

    As the Ebola epidemic claims new victims at an ever-increasing rate, African governments in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia have instituted a "cordon sanitaire," deploying troops to forcibly isolate the inhabitants in an area containing most of the cases.

    August 18, 2014

  • Democrat? Republican? There's an app for that

    If you're a Republican, you might want to think twice before buying Lipton Iced Tea, and forget about Starbucks coffee. If you're a Democrat, put down that Reese's Peanut Butter Cup, and throw away the cylinder of Quaker Oats in your pantry.

    August 18, 2014

  • Five myths about presidential vacations

    In the nuclear age, presidents may have only minutes to make a decision that could affect the entire world. They don't so much leave the White House as they take a miniature version of it with them wherever they go.

    August 15, 2014

  • weightloss.jpg The scales of injustice: Weight loss differs between men, women

    You're not imagining it: There really are differences between the way men and women diet, lose weight and respond to exercise.

    August 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Drug dealers going corporate

    A top federal official on Tuesday said that 105 banks and credit unions are doing business with legal marijuana sellers, suggesting that federal rules giving financial institutions the go-ahead to provide services to dealers are starting to work.

    August 13, 2014

  • wwimemorial.jpg The benefit of World War I omission on the Washington Mall

    By 1982, when the Vietnam Veterans Memorial opened on the National Mall, something had shifted in the way we remember our wars. A national memorial, prominently placed on the nation's most symbolically significant public space, came to seem like an essential dignity offered to veterans, their families and the memory of those who gave their lives. But there is an exception.

    August 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • In Japan, ramen aficionados worry their favorite dish is coming off the boil

    "The ramen boom has ended," said Ivan Orkin, a New Yorker who first traveled to Japan in the 1980s and now owns two noodle-soup restaurants in Tokyo. "A boom implies that there are new avenues and new growth to pursue, and that's not the case in Japan anymore."

    August 11, 2014

  • Ronnie Ellis: U.S. Senate race trail long and interesting

    By Ronnie Ellis/CNHI News Service

    FRANKFORT — Last week was a long one, endured under the onslaught of an awful summer cold and played out across the commonwealth. It began in Fancy Farm and ended it in Corbin with a trip to Hazard in between.

    August 9, 2014

Twitter Updates
Facebook
Stocks