In the McKinney School District, prayers, even ones which are ecumenical and non-denominational, are under attack.
In August, Superintendent Rick McDaniel gave a prayer at convocation, which took place at Prestonwood Baptist Church.
The Freedom from Religion Foundation immediately got involved seeking punishment, which the Christian Post also reported on. Fox 4 categorizes the FFRF as one which “said the district violated its obligation to stay neutral on religious matters.” The group has a history of putting a stop to various religious related aspects at school, however, calling their own neutrality into question.
In the following months, a small but vocal group of parents are still complaining, Fox 4 recently reported. While discussion of the prayer and religious symbols was not on the agenda, the parents in question signed up to speak about it during Tuesday’s school board meeting. The district now says it is re-evaluating school prayers and hosting events at churches.
The prayers which parents took issue with have had to do with protection for the new school year, as well as for victims of terrorism. In August, McDaniel prayed about the Barcelona attack. The prayer, less than a minute long, evoked God, but did not mention Jesus Christ, whom Christians pray to. It also received applause from those present at the convocation.
Nevertheless, parents complained, in ways which showed a personal, almost troubling distaste for prayer.
“No one is trying to prevent the zeal you have to spread your religion,” said resident Marta Pinkston, despite how the prayer did not contain evangelical aspects.
Resident Amy Bennett took the prayer to be about McDaniel putting on a show, noting not only was it “against the law,” but also that “If you really believe that prayer works, you shouldn’t have to do it in front of a crowd.”
Jo Oliver, another resident, believes “we had this figured out as a nation,” which means “hav[ing] a moment of silence.”
While those like Pinkston may suggest that there is no “prevent[ing] the zeal” of religion, the issue of prayer was not the only ones parents had. Some even felt that teachers did not have a right to have their own religious symbols, either at their private desks or as jewelry. As Fox 4 reported:
A spokesperson for the district says there have also been a few complaints about teachers having religious symbols in classrooms, like a cross at their desk or as jewelry. The district says it addresses those concerns with teachers privately when warranted. But teachers do have a right to keep a cross on their desk or wear a cross around their neck.
The spokesperson says the complaints have come from a small group of parents, and it’s been a distraction from their mission to educate.
A distraction indeed, not only “from their mission to educate,” but the freedom to do so while operating under the Judeo-Christian principals our nation was founded under.