FRANKLIN – Williamson County school board members are weighing whether to challenge a federal ruling and try to add prayers to their public meetings, the Tennessean reports.
The board’s long-standing policy of holding a “moment of silence” was questioned Monday night by some board members who want to explore whether praying should be part of the board’s regular agenda after the call to order and the Pledge of Allegiance.
But prayer at the meetings could mean a potentially expensive First Amendment legal fight for the board.
Citing a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, board attorney Bill Squires said praying at school board meetings has been ruled unconstitutional, though praying before public meetings such as at city council meetings remains legal.
Monday’s brief discussion revealed clear divisions among board members about a complicated, hot-button matter.
“How is having a prayer during our board meeting affecting any one of our 35,000 students?” said board member Kenneth Peterson, who said he supports prayer. “For me, ultimately the business of what we’re trying to do outweighs the first minute and a half of a board meeting. … To me, it’s not something that ultimately affects the students.”