The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) continues its crusade to stamp Christianity out of American civic life, now going after Ohio’s Orrville City School District for starting its board meetings with Christian prayers.
As is usually the case when FFRF spots people in public positions freely expressing religious faith, it was a “concerned district resident and parent” who reported that Orrville City School Board meetings open with prayer. Prayers are not listed on the board’s agenda, but reportedly are said after the Pledge of Allegiance. The person who complained was able to flag the prayer as Christian, since it ended with “our savior Jesus Christ.”
The FFRF is quick to point out that non-religiously affiliated Americans make up the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. population by religious identification — 35 percent of Americans are non-Christians.
FFRF tried to express why the choice of the nonreligious has more merit than that of people who do profess a religious faith:
“Students and parents have the right — and often have reason — to participate in school board meetings. It is coercive, embarrassing and intimidating for nonreligious citizens to be required to make a public showing of their nonbelief (by not participating) or else to display deference toward a religious sentiment in which they disbelieve,” FFRF Staff Attorney Karen Heineman wrote in a letter to Greg Roadruck, Orrville City Schools Board of Education president.
Yet is it not “coercive, embarrassing and intimidating” to tell Americans they cannot publicly express their religious faith, muzzling them when they try to come together and make important decisions?
FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor charged that “The board presumes to speak for the religious belief of the entire population of Orville City — a presumption that is quite certainly false.”