Students No Longer Reading Lord’s Prayer Over Loudspeaker at Louisiana School Following Lawsuit

Photo Credit: CNN

WEBSTER PARISH, La. — Students at a public high school in Louisiana are no longer reading The Lord’s Prayer over the loudspeaker each morning following a lawsuit filed by a woman who professes to be a Christian and her agnostic daughter.

Christy Cole and her 17-year-old daughter Kaylee recently told CNN that no one has presented the prayer at Lakeside Junior/High School in Minde since students returned from the holiday break. The Lord’s Prayer had customarily been read over the loudspeaker each morning during the daily announcements, along with the Pledge of Allegiance.

Students had asked their classmates to stand to their feet, but Cole declined to as she identifies as agnostic and doesn’t like messages about God appearing in various forms throughout the school day.

As previously reported, Cole’s mother professes to be a Christian, but still objects to Christianity being promoted in public schools and believes that “praying in public is a sin.” With the aid of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), she filed suit against the Webster Parish School District in December in an effort to put an end to what the legal challenge called “pervasive religious indoctrination.”

“Christy Cole believes her daughter and all students should be able to attend public school without exposure to government-sponsored religious practices and messages, and without harassment for their religious beliefs,” the complaint outlined.

“K.C. has felt and feels coerced, both directly and indirectly, to participate in religious activities and expression that did not and do not comport with her personal beliefs,” it stated. “She feels that she has been subjected to unwelcome indoctrination.”

The lawsuit complained that students daily read a prayer over the loudspeaker, and that prayer is incorporated into sporting events and assemblies. It also asserted that Christianity has also been discussed by teachers at times, and that graduation ceremonies are held at local churches.

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Cole additionally stated that in 2014, eighth grade students were walked to the gym to be introduced to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) group. The school went on lockdown due to a security issue at the time, and one of the representatives of the Fellowship decided to preach to the students. Cole says that a student began crying because they did not want to hear the message, and that her daughter was also upset that she could not leave.

Read the lawsuit in full here.

In its response, the school district denied some claims and affirmed others, while also denying any wrongdoing or unconstitutional behavior.

“A voluntary, student-led, student-initiated prayer was delivered in the mornings at Lakeside, but this practice has been discontinued,” it outlined. “Defendants assert that no prayers occurred at student assemblies, at pep rallies, or at all of the athletic games. … Further answering, Defendants deny that their actions were unlawful or unconstitutional.”

“Defendants deny that any student was taken to the gym to be ‘introduced’ to the FCA,” the rebuttal also stated. “Defendants deny the allegations of fact (that a FCA representative preached to students) contained within paragraph 52 of Plaintiff’s complaint as written and deny that any of their actions were unlawful or unconstitutional.”

Read the response in full here.

Some residents of Webster Parish, being characterized as a community of faith, have expressed support for the practice of student-led prayer in the district.

“You have to realize that our tradition, our belief in God is so ingrained in us and so rooted in us that it’s a part of everything that we do,” Greg Lee, a banker, told CNN. “I would like for my kid to be able to have the right and retain the right to pray and to have prayer in school.”

The issue that the Coles’ took with the student-initiated, student-led prayer tradition was that it was presented over the loudspeaker by students who asked their listening classmates to stand. Kaylee Cole also stated that she was looked down upon by her peers for sitting down during the recitation.

As previously reported, in 1828, just 41 years after the signing of the U.S. Constitution, Noah Webster, known as the Father of American Scholarship and Education, wrote, “In my view, the Christian religion is the most important and one of the first things in which all children, under a free government, ought to be instructed. … No truth is more evident to my mind than that the Christian religion must be the basis of any government intended to secure the rights and privileges of a free people.”

Noah Webster’s famous “Blue Back Speller” referenced Christianity, including God-centered statements in reading lessons such as “The preacher is to preach the gospel,” “Blasphemy is contemptuous treatment of God,” and “We do not like to see our own sins.”

The first textbook used in the American colonies even before the nation’s founding, “The New England Primer,” was likewise largely focused on the Scriptures, and was stated to be popular in public and private schools alike until approximately the early 1900’s. It used mostly the King James Bible as reference, and spoke much about sin, salvation and proper behavior.

“Save me, O God, from evil all this day long, and let me love and serve Thee forever, for the sake of Jesus Christ, Thy Son,” it read.

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  • John Keenan

    I’m sure it was the Roman Catholic version of the Our Father (in North Louisiana) … right?

    Using religion as a basis to discriminate, to try to impose your faith on non-believers by use of government dictate, in public schools, is only a sign of the failure of evangelization, a failure of preaching.

    There are kids of just about every faith in my child’s public school.

    I would no more want my son to be FORCED to pray Hindu, Muslim, Jewish, Protestant, or Church of Satan “prayers” any more than would I presume to force them to share in my prayer. It is a public school for crying out loud.

    I’ve nothing against ecumenicalism. I think sharing what we believe in with everyone is wonderful. However, it’s something we should do in private on our own initiative.

    I don’t want ANY government approved prayers for my children.

    Please. Thank you.

    (PS It would be called respect for our differences.)

    • John O

      and if u were teaching history, it would be hard to please everybody when teaching the act of supremecy making the king the head of the church of england or the act of conformity trying to make everybody join the church of england. go to the new country and have freedom. that means one can just sit if they don’t want to join but hardly gives the authority of one to control all the rest. thats called monarchy or dictatorship or just plain selfish.

      • John Keenan

        John O,

        I think I hear you. I do not sense that we disagree.

        I just think prayer, as important as it is in life, has no place in a public school.

        Since you want to bring up “history” forgive me if I point out to you the Roman Catholic Church is built by, and on, martyrs for our faith … who sacrificed their lives rather than pray to a god we do not recognize.

        The USA is a democracy and diversity is our strength. Teach the kids what they need to succeed in life at school. Leave matters of faith to the students families.

        • John O

          right. but praying is not forcing anymore than making a political speech is forcing. teaching kids has always been a difference of opinion. how do u make a informed decision with one side? wasn’t it Aristotle who paid a big price for his opinion to students. nothing new.

          • John Keenan

            Prayer has no place in public schools.

            My spiritual ancestors laid down their lives rather than pray to gods we do not recognize. I’m sure the Roman Catholic faith is not the only faith in which people feel that way.

            If you are a protestant, why should you have to pray a “Catholic” prayer?

            I do not believe the Bible is meant to be taken literally. I’m opposed to teaching creationism instead of evolution.

            Kids in Louisiana are at enough of a disadvantage.

            If you can’t teach your kids enough about your faith on Sundays, take them out of public schools and put them in religious schools where you can teach them anything you want to pay for.

            I am not paying taxes to have my kid taught non-denominational “christian” “prayers,” small “c” small “p”, AT SCHOOL.

            Likewise, while I respect people who believe in Protestantism, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, agnostic, atheist or, God forbid,Church of Satan, whatever, I don’t want my child being taught to pray by government employees at a public school. PERIOD.

            My kid is not missing anything by not having to pray in public at school.

            At the beginning of the day, after the Pledge of Allegiance, is not the time nor are public schools the place.

            If you want to form a Faith Club, like the Chess Club or any other extracurricular activity, fine. There is always a time and place for that.

            Kids in our state cannot read, write, or cipher for crying out loud. I send my kid to school to learn those subjects. I take responsibility for my child’s faith life. Don’t you?

            Why must people insist on denying pastry to gay people and push prayer over learning? Faith is no justification for discrimination. I want the state to provide my child an education, not religion lessons.

            Don’t people know the difference between right and wrong anymore?

            We have a constitution which demands separation of and state.

            I insist on it.

          • Tim Matter

            “Prayer has no place in public schools.” Slight correction before people misunderstand. Nobody wants to stop kids from being allowed to pray if they want.

          • Blue

            Good point. Students can pray and form religious clubs.

            A law specifically permitting this was written by christians and signed by Reagan in 1984.

            The standards for religious clubs in schools include:

            – Attendance is voluntary
            – Group is student-initiated
            – Group is not disruptive
            – Persons of the community that are not part of the school may not “direct, conduct, control, or regularly attend meetings”

            Nowhere does it say members of one religious faith can lead the entire school in prayer.

          • John Keenan

            It is a free country. You can pray anywhere any time you want. But we live in a multicultural society and nobody has a right to impose their spiritual beliefs on any other citizen. Our government cannot sanction “prayer in school.”

          • Blue

            Do you know why parochial schools exist in the US? Google Philadelphia Bible Riots.

            Protestants demanded that school teachers read from the Protestant version of the bible every day and lead children in protestant prayers. Catholic families objected. Protestants started a riot and blamed it on Catholics. Several people died. After 10 years, catholics gave up and started their own schools.

            It was wrong then to use schools to push religion. It is still wrong.

            As John Keenan said, prayer does not belong in public schools.

          • John Keenan

            I was unaware of this. Thanks for the enlightenment. Kind of scary.

            Today, in the south, IMO, private, Catholic schools are used to avoid segregation. I’m opposed to vouchers. My father sent me through twelve years of Catholic school … nobody reimbursed him for the cost of my education.

          • John O

            i don’t doubt u and mr keenan are politically correct. i just find it strange anybody on a Christian website would have any objection to prayer. school days have changed. sodomy and transexual are taught with a lot of objection in some quarters. i remember my son coming home and telling me the facts of life when he was in the 1st grade. a lot more than anybody of my generation taught. God have Mercy on us all.

          • Blue

            I have zero objection to students praying.

            I have a serious objection to the government telling anyone who to pray to.

            I am confident your “what’s wrong with prayer?” stance would change in a heartbeat if your children were led in prayer to Allah.

            You, not the government, get to decide what your children are taught about religion. The same is true for every other parent. School employees cannot arrange for students to be led in prayer to anyone’s deity.

            Christians have objected to prayer in schools since at, least 1830 with the Philadelphia Bible Riots, because not all christians believe the same thing. Protestants don’t want their kids praying to the Virgin Mary. Catholics don’t want their kids praying evangelical prayers that contradict their beliefs.

            Some christians also respect Jesus’ words in Matthew 5 and do not pray in public.

            Government employees cannot promote religion while on the clock or while exercising government authority.

          • John Keenan

            I find it strange you think anybody reading this website can not be a God fearing American who believes the nation was founded on the concept of separation of church and state. Or did you sleep through or skip Civics?

        • wiseup

          And why force sex education on these kids also,such as transgender baloneyand homsexuality,leave those things to parents also,many parents are offended with that crap going on in schools,teach only those thing you need to succeed in life a decent,successful life!

          • John Keenan

            What does sex ed, transgender baloney and homosexuality have to do with the article this thread is about?

  • Croquet_Player

    The article seems to imply that students may no longer pray at school. That is not the case. Students are entirely free to pray at school, alone or in groups. But prayers may not be broadcast over the school loudspeaker, as part of official school activities, even it if they are broadcast by a student. And the number of students and/or parents who approve of it makes no difference.

    • ZappaSaid88

      They can’t be objective because they have to play up the “persecuted Christian” angle.

  • Blue

    The students can pray as much as they like. They can say the Lord’s Prayer every morning at the flagpole with other students who choose to be there. They can pray before every class and choose what to pray. They cannot, with or without the school’s help, choose whether any other student prays or what prayer they will say.

    They cannot lead the school in their prayer to their deity over the public address system.

    • John Keenan

      Blue, that is as it should be … right?

      • Blue

        Yes. I’m not sure why some school employees cannot figure it out.

        • John Keenan


  • Vince

    As if reading the Lord’s Prayer did anyone some great harm.

    People trying to solve a nonexistent problem aren’t trying to help others, they’re just people who enjoy poking their noses into other people’s business.

    • John Keenan

      Prayer is personal and not something that can be imposed in any venue.

      Why would you want it to be?

    • Croquet_Player

      No one is trying to poke their nose into your business. They are trying to protect your business, and keep everyone else out of it. Your business is what you believe (or don’t believe) and what teach your children about religion, at home or at your place of worship. You may have a particular faith, and you would like like to raise your children exclusively in that faith. You have every right to do so. You are guaranteed that very right in the constitution. And students have the right to be free from any sort of proselytization. Do you want teachers or administrators teaching your children something else? Something that conflicts with your family’s faith? I would think not. This is why public schools must remain scrupulously neutral in all matters concerning religion, faith, or absence of faiths, etc. Students also have a right to a thorough education, which includes a basic overview of all the world’s major religions. But information and proselytization are two very different things.

  • Croquet_Player

    All public school students in the United States have the right to pray (or not) alone or in groups. The school may not broadcast, as part of official school activities, any sort of promotion, or denigration, of religions, or a religion, or absence of religion or particular faith(s). It’s very simple, this protects everyone from any sort of undue influence.

  • Ira Pistos

    Such terror the Godless have over hearing the Word of God.

    • John Keenan

      It’s ironic people fled religious persecution to come to America.

      Now, generations later, these religious refugees descendants are trying to force the same type of persecution upon the rest of us.

      And you call that Godless. I don’t think you understand the American concept of freedom.

      How dare you have the audacity to presume you know best about God. Thanks for being here to keep us all in line. You need to learn about the one true faith I think. How would you like that Ira?

      • Ira Pistos

        Your faith statement:
        ” Now generations later these religious refugees descendants are trying to force the same kind of persecution upon the rest of us”

        Nonsense and refuted by history.
        I don’t seem to recall the USA being reviled as a nation of persecution prior to the pogroms against Christians these last several decades.

        Your lie:
        ” And you call anyone who disagrees with you godless”

        Nonsense, I refer to anyone in rebellion against God, godless.

        Your lie:
        ” How dare you Have the audacity to presume you know best about God.”

        I make no such presumption or suggestion.

        • John Keenan

          Ira I finally found something you said in which I find total agreement. Nonsense. Most people understand seperation of church and state. We will always have the hair splitters amongst us. I want to thank the publisher and editors of this website for maintaining an open forum. Thank you for letting me comment. Farewell to you all on this subject and may God Bless America! Protect our troops, bring them all home.

          • Ira Pistos

            John, God comes before all persons, things and entities in my life.
            He is first in my heart and mind.

            People. All people come next in my regard. If we believe what God says, and I do, then if we do not get the gospel to them and make clear the consequences of rejection, we are monstrous in our neglect and disregard for their welfare.
            If we are complicit in nurturing the myth that all faiths are fine, sharing the gospel is offensive, that the Word of God is inappropriate at any time, then our hatred for our fellow humans is evident, not our love.

            We aren’t here to make people comfortable, we’re here to provide them a cure that they find repulsive.

            “church and state” what ever side of it we fall on is beyond trivial. Placing nation or any ideal before God is repugnant.

            Peace John,

          • John Keenan

            It’s a shame you cannot hold two conflicting thoughts in your mind at the same time.

            I find your self created mandate for a personal responsibility to “get the gospel to them…” offensive.

            I think you fear more your own self created hell and the condemnation you will bring down upon yourself for being complicit in your own created crime.

            You aren’t here to make people comfortable? You are here to help them cure what you find repulsive?

            You come to a nation founded on church and state being seperate and that believe is held as a matter of faith by most Americans and think that something you heard in church gives you the right to just toss that aside? Are you crazy?

            I find your belief system objectionable.

            I’m a Roman Catholic.

            I need to come over to your house now with my New American Version of the Bible. Apparently you have been led astray from the One True Faith.

          • Ira Pistos

            No nation, no personal ideal and no person takes precedence over God.

            Peace John

    • Roosevelt32

      Such terror some Christians have over someone who believes in a different religion or a different god. And you cannot even agree on your own version of god.

      Only 25 years ago you were still killing each other in Ireland over Protestant vs. Catholic. There were several hundred years in the Middle Ages that excommunicated or burnt anyone who dared to hold a different Christian view than current Catholic doctrine.

  • Mark

    We need to do everything we can to keep ANY last vestiges of Christianity and Godliness in our schools and colleges. Because, when they’re gone, they are gone FOREVER

  • John O

    Genesis 1:1 (ESV)
    1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

    if u don’t believe that, all that follows is beyond your comprehension. u have the foundation of a atheist. don’t bother trying to argue with me, i have made my choice.

    • Roosevelt32

      Which version of creation do you follow? There are two different versions in Genesis.

      • John O

        the indians all worshipped the Creator long b-4 they ever heard of a bible. natural law.

        • glenbo

          What is “natural law?”

          • John O

            just like it implies. what man was created as natural. even primitive people worshipped. if u read some of the buddah teaching, they are concentrated on natural law. its the only religion I know of that doesn’t worship a deity.

          • glenbo

            Where does natural law come from?

          • John O

            never wondered. just like gravity. fall down and not fall up. just natural

          • glenbo

            What is the definition of natural law?

    • glenbo

      >>” In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”<<

      From what?

  • Chet

    Why didn’t the school simply dare to be a Daniel and continue on as the were. The ACLU is not God Almighty and no one is accountable unto them. The worst that could happen is they’d have the school shut down and turn the kids out into the streets. Now, how long do you think that would last before it reopened via parents and politicos crying out… Try taking a stand and watch God Almighty work the thing out for His glory and honor in Jesus name…