No more praying aloud at Florence School District One board meetings

Thursday night, Florence School District One Board of Trustees voted to no longer pray aloud at their meetings.

Thursday night, Florence School District One Board of Trustees voted to no longer pray aloud at their meetings.

Instead, they will offer up a moment of silence.

The board was afraid they could face a lawsuit by continuing to openly pray aloud at meetings.

Last month, Chesterfield County School District settled a lawsuit over a Christian pep rally at a school last year.

The lawsuit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on behalf of a student and his parent.

According to the Chesterfield County School District's website, based on court decisions interpreting the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution, the Board majority approved the consent decree and order.

The consent decree and order recognizes that students and teachers do have rights under the Free Exercise and Free Speech provisions of the First Amendment to pray at school under certain conditions and to participate in other religious activities.

The board was advised that defending the lawsuit would result in a court-imposed order after many thousands of dollars had been spent on legal costs.

The board said it wanted to make it clear that it intends to abide by the constitutional principle of separation of church and state, while also recognizing and allowing the permissible exercise of religion by its staff and students and all citizens.

Florence School District One board member Alexis Pipkins, Sr., expressed his discontent over their decision to pray silently at meetings, but voted in favor of the motion.

"Because it's the law of the land, that doesn't necessarily mean that it's right, but I do understand it but bottom line for the sake of understanding a moment of silence, and I understand that I will support the motion," said Pipkins.

Pat Gibson Hye-Moore was the only board member who voted against the motion. She says she's not willing to compromise her Christian beliefs.

Pipkins called on the faith based community in Florence to hold a prayer service outside the district office an hour before their next board meeting.