PICKENS COUNTY—A few local groups will be gathering at tonight’s Pickens school board meeting to “support” what they believe is an important student freedom to pray.
Scott Durham, Chaplin for Oconee Men’s Outreach, along with some of his fellow church members from Cove Creek Baptist in Pickens will make their way to the board meeting in response to a recent letter sent by the Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) in Wisconsin asking the school board to stop prayer in meetings.
Prayer is usually held at the beginning of meetings along with the Pledge of Allegiance, and officials from the FFRF say those prayers are unconstitutional.
“We’re just hoping to let the school board know that we support them,” said Durham. “People need to understand that it was student led prayer. It really wasn’t interfering with the board meetings or anything. I really don’t understand what the big problem is.”
Durham said he extended an invitation to the Pickens congregation, and he believes quite a few will show up.
“We’re not there to be ignorant and spout off a bunch of garbage,” Durham said. “We just want to let the school board know that we support them and we’re going to pray for them.”
Durham said the point of the gathering is not to make a big fuss.
“We’re going to gather and pray before the meeting. It’s not going to be a big fuss,” Durham said. “We just want the board know that we support our students and their freedoms that they enjoy. It doesn’t matter to me if there’s a guy who is a Muslim and he gets up there and prays. That’s their business, and if they are a student, it shouldn’t be my place to say anything to them.”
Durham said while he gets where the organization is coming from, he does not believe there is anything unconstitutional about the prayers said before meetings.
“I understand what they are saying. Nobody at the school board is trying to mandate any religion or force any religion,” Durham said. “Last time I checked, student led prayer was not against the constitution in any shape, form or fashion.”
“You have to realize that every law we have in our land is based on the Ten Commandments,” he continued. “What do you expect when you ignore those things and just let them go?”
Removing these principals could be dangerous, Durham said.
“We, as parents, don’t want to see the same type of stuff happen here that happened in Connecticut or anywhere else,” Durham said. “We need to realize that protection comes from God.”
For Durham, the issue boils down to one simple point.
“They shouldn’t be told they can’t pray,” he said.
School board meetings convene at 1348 Griffin Mill Rd on the last Monday of each month. The board is scheduled to begin the public meeting at 7 p.m.