Controversy continues over prayer at PTO meetings - WSMV Channel 4

Controversy continues over prayer at PTO meetings

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WINCHESTER, TN (WSMV) -

It all began with a warning from the Freedom From Religion Foundation in Madison, WI, to the Franklin County Parent Teacher Organization.

It said any kind of prayer before a meeting violates the separation of church and state.

Folks at Monday's board meeting say while they didn't pick this battle, they intend to win it.

The PTO meets after school hours, but none the less, saying prayers before the meeting offended a few parents. That's when the Freedom From Religion Foundation stepped in a few weeks ago and sent a letter to the school board.

It was read by the director of schools on Monday.

It said in part, "We ask that you discontinue the practice of prayer before PTO meetings."

This controversy has been festering for weeks in a county where religion is an important part of people's lives.

"There are a lot of good people in this county. They believe in prayer here," said one community member. "They don't believe in letting them outside people come in here and tell us what to do."

While the public could not speak at Monday night's meeting, it gave board members a chance to vent their frustration, and some comments were met with thunderous applause.

"I think it's time we draw the line in the sand," said one board member.

Another board member introduced the alternative of having a moment of silence, but it was not a popular idea.

The Franklin County School Board will vote on whether prayers can continue at meetings next Monday at 6:30 p.m. at Franklin County High School.

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