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No More Religious Activities Over the PA System in This Oklahoma School as Parents Push Back

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An Elementary School Classroom
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An Oklahoma school district recently ended broadcasting morning prayers over the PA system at an elementary school. The action follows heavy criticism from parents of students attending the school.

The drama started unfolding in November when parents became aware of Prague Elementary School’s unique tradition. The school is famous for sending students to Bible study and saying morning prayer over the school’s PA system.

One anonymous parent says that some of the students were enduring things like bullying. All because they chose not to participate in the school-sanctioned religious activities.

The parent said: “I went to the principal and told her that what they are doing is illegal. But they told me that because it is students technically leading it, it isn’t.”

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After receiving heat from parents on the topic, Prague Public School District ultimately put an end to the morning prayers and Bible study. Afterward, they released a statement. In it, they expressed the district’s dedication to “following the law and protecting the rights of every student to freely exercise his or her religion.”

Of course, not everybody was happy with the outcome. A good example is State Superintendent Ryan Walters. He seems to believe that the parents’ complaining will lead to the students losing their religious freedom.

Walters took to X with a video that almost seemed like a rant. He vowed to “take a stand for our students’ freedom of religion, their freedom to express their religious beliefs.”

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Jeremy Telman, a law professor at Oklahoma City University, does not share the same sentiment with Walters. He believes that Walters was “100% incorrect” in claiming that any students’ freedom to express their religious beliefs was under attack. 

He thinks this is especially true now that the school is no longer allowing prayers over the intercom. Telman explained. “In fact, the rights of the other students were violated when the school was broadcasting those prayers.”

According to Telman, the biggest issue was that the prayers were getting broadcast over the public address system. This basically forced every student to at least hear the prayers.

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Telman says there are two clauses in the First Amendment that schools need to navigate.

“The first is the free exercise clause, which is that all Americans have a right to freely exercise their religion,” he said. “And the other is the establishment clause, which is that basically, the government can’t force people to exercise or to pray or practice religion in any particular way.”

In response, district leaders said they agreed “the posts and prayer are inappropriate.” This is what truly led Walters on a rampage. In response to Walters’s stance on the matter, the Freedom From Religion Foundation has called for his resignation.

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