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Atheists want school boards to stop prayer at meetings - abc27 WHTM

Franklin County

Atheists want school boards to stop prayer at meetings

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GREENCASTLE, Pa. (WHTM) -

Two local atheist groups are pressuring some local school boards to stop saying prayers before their meetings.

The groups visited Franklin County on Thursday. Shortly after the Greencastle-Antrim School Board opened their meeting with the Lord's Prayer, two people spoke up in protest of that practice.

Representatives from Pennsylvania Non-Believers and American Atheists, Incorporated said the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers Pennsylvania, ruled last year that prayer is not permitted at school board meetings.

The groups are sending letters to districts that allow prayer, telling them to stop.

"It is a clear constitutional violation and if they don't they're going to face legal action," said Carl Silverman of the PA Non-Believers. "And they're going to lose because it's not a gray area anymore."

Silverman said he has received complaints about the prayers from residents of the district that are too afraid to come forward.

"I've been attending board meetings for 25 years and it's always been a practice of the school board to start the meeting with the Lord's Prayer," Superintendent Greg Hoover said. "No one's ever said a word."

The board would not comment on what they were going to do in the future.

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