Prayers Not Allowed Over PA System at Tennessee School Following Atheist Complaint

WAYNESBORO, Tenn. — Prayers will not be allowed to be presented over the public address system at a school in Tennessee after one of the nation’s most conspicuous professing atheist groups lodged a complaint about a student’s recent prayer during the morning announcements.

The Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) sent a letter on March 26 to the Superintendent of the Wayne County Board of Education after learning of a video posted to the Tennessee River Valley News Facebook page.

The video showed a female student praying during the morning announcements, and was captioned “How Fridays begin at Wayne County High School in Tennessee.”

“Dear Heavenly Father, I just want to thank You for this day that You’ve given us, Lord,” she began. “And Lord, I want to thank You for the protection that You continue to put over our school, God.”

“I thank You for our country and I ask You to continue to keep us safe here, God, and let us just remember to make decisions that go towards You, Lord,” the student continued. “And Lord, I thank you for Your Son who died on a cross for our sins.”

FFRF quickly sent correspondence to Superintendent Marlon Davis to ask that such practices not be allowed in the future. The Church-State separation group asserted that the allowance was unconstitutional and alienated students who are not Christians.

“The practice of opening each school day with a broadcast religious ritual is illegal,” wrote attorney Christopher Line. “The practice of opening the school day with prayer creates the appearance of school endorsement of religion. This practice must end.”

  • Connect with Christian News

“Nothing in the law prevents students, teachers or school administrators from freely exercising their religion on their own time and in their own way,” he stated. “But a public school itself must not broadcast a decidedly religious message to a captive student audience, thereby isolating and excluding those students who are non-Christian or nonreligious.”

Davis has now replied to FFRF, advising that the prayer in the video was not a regular occurrence at the school, but a single instance where a student decided to pray in presenting the announcements that particular morning. However, he also advised that he has directed the principal not to let it happen again.

“This is not a daily practice, but was an occurrence where an FCA student was sharing announcements with the student body and included a prayer as a part of her presentation,” Davis wrote. “I have shared your letter with the principal and directed him to enforce the request to cease.”

View the letter in full here.

FFRF has applauded the move, calling the presentation of prayer in school “divisive.”

As previously reported, while some state that the Constitution prohibits Christianity from being endorsed in public schools, others note that this was not the thinking of a number of the founding fathers.


Dr. Benjamin Rush was a signer of the Declaration of Independence and vice-president of the Bible Society of Philadelphia. In 1806, he said, “The only means of establishing and perpetuating our republican forms of government is the universal education of our youth in the principles of Christianity by means of the Bible.”

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.”

Webster’s famous “Blue Back Speller” for students 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.”

View sample pages from Webster’s Blue Back Speller here.

Become a Christian News Network Supporter...

Dear Reader, has been of benefit and a blessing to you? For many years now, the Lord has seen fit to use this small news outlet as a strong influential resource in keeping Christians informed on current events from a Biblical worldview. Despite Facebook's recent algorithm changes, which has limited our readership, and, as a result, has affected operational revenue, we continue to strive to bring you the news without compromise and to keep Christ in focus. If you have benefited from our news coverage, would you please prayerfully consider becoming a Christian News supporter by clicking here to make a one-time or monthly donation to help keep the truth widely and freely published and distributed? May Christ continue to be exalted through this work!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
  • Croquet_Player

    The headline is misleading. Prayers on the loudspeaker as part of the school day were not allowed before the complaint either, but the school was doing it anyway. Students are free to pray at school, alone or in groups. But it can’t be part of official school activities, like morning announcements, even if it’s by a student.

  • james blue

    Pretty sure that’s not allowed at any public school.

  • Carson-Ray Carter

    Allowing atheist groups to bully local government and school boards is a way of life in america now. It is very sad when you can’t even ask God for protection and guidance in a school that is filled with young people that comes from all walks of lives and needs to here word of life and hope. Know God know hope; No God No Hope. And Jesus is real.

    • Tim Matter

      Carson-Ray Carter- “in a school that is filled with young people that comes from all walks of lives.”
      That’s kind of the point. It is a public school where kids attend that come from families with many different religions, and many different branches of the same religion that don’t agree on everything. You wouldn’t want your kids hearing the prayers of a Catholic, Mormon, J.W. or a Universalist where they slip in bits of teachings you would consider heretical. Other parents shouldn’t have their kids hear school sponsored prayers that might contradict their religion.

      • Chet

        According to the piece as written, what bits of teachings were slipped in that were wrong, offensive or heretical?

    • james blue

      There is nothing stopping students and staff asking for God’s guidance.

    • Samwise

      Lying does not help your argument.

      Any student and any teacher may ask for God’s guidance and protection. Students can meet and pray together. Teachers can meet and pray on personal time.

      Tell the truth.

      The only thing that is forbidden is for people to use government authority or government property (i.e. public address systems) to make other students listen to their prayers to their deity.

      • Bezukhov

        How are Good, Bible Thumping Christians supposed to show a Heathen like you that they are Holier Than Thou except by screaming their prayers over the school PA system?

        • Chet

          My, how deluded, dude. Holy Bible Christians are sinners just as all other men. The difference being, Christians have had their SINS washed away in the precious blood of the Lord Jesus Christ of Calvary. And that, is what makes them holy, not self righteousness or good works.

          • Samwise

            But you still do not get to use government PA systems to make everyone else listen while you talk to your deity.

          • Chet

            How bout a personal store bought device? Would this set well with haters?

          • Samwise

            If someone wants to stand in their front yard or a street corner, they can say what they like as loudly as they like, subject to normal noise restrictions.

            But in their front yard, they wouldn’t have a few thousand people there to admire their piety, people who had been gathered by people using government authority.

          • Chet

            Erroneous again, Sam, as Christians and believing Jews seek not admiration from the masses. Man, we’re all sinners, either saved and transformed sinners or sinners not yet come to the Christ of Calvary. The goal is twofold, alert lost sinners to the wrath of God to come should they depart this short lifespan the same as they came in. That is, snapping out into eternity without the grace of God and His mercy so applied to their eternal souls. And the other is to give God all the glory and honor and praise one can muster as He is indeed altogether worthy of such. God is good and America needs Him and His blessings and His security, especially at this crucial time in history. Thanks for the opportunity to share God’s love via the Christ of Calvary… And have a good day, Sir.

          • Samwise

            ? Then why get on a loudspeaker to pray so that a few thousand people must listen whether they want to or not?

            The only reason to pray over a government owned PA system to a few thousand people who came to see a football game is to make sure every one of those people know that someone really special is praying. God isn’t getting the glory. The person flaunting his holiness is.

            Read Matthew 6.

          • Chet

            One can be assured that in today’s climate, no Christian or believing Jew is getting any such “glory” when speaking of and proclaiming God’s Word, the Holy Bible… Hate is gaining all along…

    • Guzzman

      Upholding the Constitution is not “bullying.” The issue of using a public school PA system to broadcast prayers and religious exercises to a captive audience of students was settled over 50 years ago in School Dist. of Abington Tp. v. Schempp, 374 U.S. 203 (1963). Students are free to pray at school as long as it is not disruptive or imposed on others.

      The school admitted its error and took swift corrective action. Please explain how that amounts to bullying.

  • robert boe

    Prayer not be allowed but people in all schools sure use it very quickly when the bullets are flying around them . And why is it atheist like to say rip when a atheist dies .rip is Christian . Decay and stink and rot away
    Like road kill would be atheist.

    • Samwise

      people in all schools sure use it very quickly when the bullets are flying around them

      Evidence, please.

      Does a person in fear of drowning suddenly start believing in and praying to the Greek God Neptune? Not likely.

      And a person who does not believe in the Tooth Fairy won’t call on her when they need a root canal.

      People who do believe in supernatural beings fo not pray to them.

      • Chet

        No atheists in foxholes, dude…

        • Bezukhov

          Never seen a Christian in a foxhole, come to think about it.

          • Chet

            Ever heard of Sergeant York, for but one example?

        • Samwise

          Cliches are just cliches, dude.

          There are a lot of atheists in the military. Thousands of them have been through combat without ever talking to deities.

          There is no way you would pray to Zeus during a lightning storm because you do not believe Zeus exists. People who do not believe in the deity described in the bible simply do not talk to it.

          • Chet

            Sure, most everyone is tough till it comes time to die and the reality of personal accountability, judgement and eternal damnation sets in, if, there is indeed God Almighty to soon face. Christians have made their peace with Holy God Almighty via the Lord Jesus Christ of Calvary.

            You ever read of and/or listened to the testimonies of those who witnessed the unsaved on their deathbeds who knew not the Lord as they snapped-out into eternity? Not a pretty situation, but, rather, frightening.

            Can you claim the same regarding the lost? Any first hand accounts of those who witnessed unsaved men as they breathed their last sigh as they joyfully exclaimed that anyone with a belief in God to be a phony hoax?

    • Croquet_Player

      Prayer is allowed in schools. Students may pray, alone or in together groups.

    • peanut butter

      I knew one atheist. He committed suicide. I went with friends to his parents a couple of weeks later, and they didn’t even mention his name in that hour+. So in some cases, you could be right.

  • Samwise

    The authors of the Constitution established the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court ruled over 50 years ago against school sponsored prayer. Each and very single student gets to attend public school without being led in prayer against their personal beliefs.

    • Edward Silha

      Not only did the authors of the Constitution establish the Supreme Court, they specified that the Court was the sole arbiter of the meaning of the constitution. Heather Clark, the author of the article, does a disservice to the readers and the public by writing “As previously reported, while some state that the Constitution prohibits Christianity from being endorsed in public schools, others note that this was not the thinking of a number of the founding fathers.”

      Does she naively believe that the justices are unfamiliar with the history of the constitution? Does she believe her interpretation of the constitution should override that of the Court?

      • peanut butter

        This is for Samwise. Sorry, Edward, it wouldn’t let me respond to him…………This was done at the behest of Madeline Murray O’Hare, a renowned atheist. She started this whole mess. The first year I started school we said The Lord’s Prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance. In second grade it was just the Pledge. Now they are removing that. That wall you all keep talking about works the other way around. It’s supposed to keep the government out of our religion and our expression of that Christian religion. That’s what the country was founded upon. The wall was not to keep our religion out of the government. Let me see you go to China or India or Iran and see if you can take their religion out of their governance.

  • Ginger

    Around the Bible have raged, in varying fury, the storms of the ages.
    All the moral and intellectual forces of the centuries have mustered their
    strength in attack and defense of this one book, and its product, Christianity.
    The attack, and therefore the defense, have altered in form only to increase in
    intensity as the centuries have passed. Never for a moment has the battle
    ceased. It is still raging, read “in
    whom we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins”
    Colossians 1:14 KJV. Does your version
    pass muster? What everyone forgets or does not know we have the children
    of darkness among us the tares of the world (Matthew 13 KJV) they have always
    been the troublemakers and word-smiths of the world. John KJV 5:22 “For the Father judgeth no
    man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son:” (they are sticking their
    neck out because the Son will judge them).
    They may think they are getting away with what they are doing in the
    flesh. It is their spirit that will be mortal spirits meaning libel to die,
    when they go to judgment. The destroyer is starting to use his full force against Christianity, because the coming of Jesus Christ signed his death warrant. Hebrews 2:14 Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; [KJV]

  • Stupid Atheist

    Couldn’t we compromise and allow the students to hear Matthew 6:5 read aloud every morning…?

  • Guest✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

    We had prayer in Canadian schools until at least 2000. Bible reading, too. It was pretty wonderful.

    • peanut butter

      They stopped ours in about 1962. That is why America has gone to ripen and rot in sin But many are in repentance. We need that. We need to ask God to protect and heal our land. And the world.

      • Guest✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

        We need repentance here in Canada, too. Years ago, the church got together here (by that I mean a country-wide movement) and prayed outside of Parliament Hill. The answer was a godly Christian Prime Minister for 10 years. Now we have Justin Trudeau, so I am hoping for another movement of national prayer and repentance. It’s really bad here right now.

        • Susan Perelka

          Abba Father, Hear the cry of your daughter. Wake up Your people to remember that You are Almighty God and You hear the prayers of Your people. Convict Your people of our sins, so that we can repent and turn back to You, so that You can heal our nations. Remind us who we are and to Whom we belong to, Jesus Christ. As I pray for my own nation, America, I also lift up the nation of Canada. Enlighten our hearts, give us wisdom on what You would have us do in this season. How can we serve You in order to get Your truth to the world. Forgive us Lord and help us, have mercy on us and guide us. You are our God and we are Your people. I ask this through Your beloved Son Jesus Christ, our Lord and our Savior. AMEN

          • Susan Perelka

            Start a prayer revival here. God hears us wherever we are.

          • Guest✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ


  • peanut butter

    This should never happen in a land that has been dedicated to God no less than three times. Period.

  • Chet

    What nonsense! If bullets were flying all the people would be praying, and, as well, those anti God anti Christ people of FFRF. Why do school authorities continue to fear this outfit rather than dare to be a Daniel and continue taking their stand and watch God Almighty work. The most these people can do is threaten a lawsuit. If by chance they should win the lawsuit and the school has to close due to lack of funding the kids will be turned out into the street. And in very short order the doors will reopen and prayers can resume at will. We are to fear God rather than man. Stop living in fear, people, cry aloud and spare not and watch the Lord honor his word and his own…

  • Susan Perelka

    Abba Father, Help us in our time of need. Give us leaders with integrity, who will set the oppressed free, who will not hold their hand out to a bribe, who will uphold what is just and right in Your eyes, who will show mercy, and who will show no partiality when judging. Father, forgive the sins of this nation, they don’t know what they are doing. Raise us up laborers to send out into the harvest, give us boldness and confidence to proclaim Your truth in a way that will be pleasing to You alone. Enlighten our hearts to Your truth. Raise us up godly men like King David, the apostle Paul, like Elijah to go forth across this land to tell of Your salvation. Place them before leaders to speak Your truth. Father, search the hearts of the men and woman in our Legislative, Executive, and Judicial branches of our government. Search the hearts of our Educators. Search the hearts of our business leaders who hold much influence over our society. Search the hearts of our Entertainment industry. Search the hearts of our News people. Search the hearts of our Law Enforcement officials. Search their hearts LORD, convict their hearts of their need for You. If they will not repent from the harm they are causing others, then remove them Yourself from these positions of power and influence and give us men of integrity who will set the oppressed free. Hear the cries of those who are oppressed, hear the cries of the blood of the innocent, hear the cries of all who mourn over the unrighteousness across this land. Help us LORD. Rise up and deliver us from the wicked. Have mercy on us. Forgive us and heal us. I ask this through Your beloved Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. AMEN