HARTSVILLE, S.C. — Children and their parents, along with pastors and other community leaders, gathered in Hartsville, South Carolina this past weekend to rally in support of putting prayer back in schools.
Approximately 450 people flocked to the Hartsville Center Theater on Saturday where they joined together in prayer and listened to words of exhortation from Christians in the community.
The event was the second of its kind and is stated to be even larger than the first. It was organized by Florence One School Board member Pat Gibson Hye-Moore and Cliff Leonard, pastor of New Providence Baptist Church.
They state that they are concerned that morality has plunged in America since prayer was removed from school.
“When we let God back in our schools openly, I believe we can expect God’s hands to grow our kids in what they need to be once again,” Leonard told local television station WBTW.
Official school prayer was first banned in America in 1962 in the Supreme Court decision of Engle v. Vitale, which involved a case out of Hyde Park, New York. Prior to the ruling, students were led in a scripted prayer every morning, which read, “Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon Thee, and we beg Thy blessings upon us, our parents, our teachers and our country. Amen.”
“We’re taking God out of everything,” lamented Hye-Moore. “We are taking the Creator, the one that created everything, we’re just trying to kick Him out and He’s not happy with that.”
As previously reported, Hye-Moore is secretary of the Florence One School Board and is a part of the “Put Prayer Back” initiative. She was in headlines earlier this year after she refused to stop praying out loud at school board meetings.
“They’re trying to take God out of our lives completely,” Hye-Moore told local television station WMFB. “He’s our protector. He’s our savior.”
The prayer rallies are stated to have arisen from the matter.
“I see [restoring prayer] as a necessity, yes, for our children, for our country, for our survival,” she said.
A third rally will be conducted in Columbia, South Carolina and a petition is being circulated that has accumulated nearly 20,000 signatures thus far.
In 2013, South Carolina representatives proposed a bill introducing a moment of silent prayer in the schools.
“All schools shall provide for a minute of mandatory silence at the beginning of each school day, during which time the teacher may deliver a prayer, provided the school allows a student to leave the classroom if the student does not want to listen to or participate in the prayer,” the legislation outlined.
The measure has not moved forward in the legislature since its introduction.