Atlanta Church violates schoolchildren's rights... repeatedly. After being told to stop.

GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. -- A parent’s complaint and action by Gwinnett County school officials has apparently not stopped volunteers at a church from asking students to pray before a test. A parent contacted Channel 2’s Kerry Kavanaugh on Wednesday and said it happened to her son twice before he took an exam at a local church. Thursday a student told Kavanaugh it happened again, despite intervention by school officials.

Plagued with overcrowding problems, Parkview High School held placement testing at Mountain Park First Baptist. While there, students were repeatedly asked to pray.

"Well, it's a separation of church and state, and obviously we have a lot of students that may come from a lot of different religious backgrounds," said Gwinnett County school district spokeswoman Sloan Roach.

Yes. It is definitely an issue of church and state separation, but it is also a moral issue. These children are a captive audience, and some of them belong to other religions. If you are Christian, how would you feel if your child felt compelled by an authority figure to pray to Allah? It is simple human decency to leave religion out of places where any sort of coercion can occur.

"We never thought that would be an issue. We thought being able to help anybody particularly on a testing would be helpful to them,” said church pastor Richard King. King said his church and volunteers had only good intentions offering the testing space and the prayers.

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Comment by Grace Fitzpatrick on May 15, 2011 at 7:59pm
Almost anyone could have foreseen this coming up when the school decided to have the test in a church.  It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out people pray in churches.  Why the Atlanta schools couldn't figure that one out goes a long way explaining the sad state of public education.
Comment by John Camilli on May 15, 2011 at 7:43pm
I also wondered about your last comment. I doubt we'll ever find out, but I too think it was silly not to just hold the tests in a public space, where the district has authority to maintain its own testing standards. To me, it all lacked forsight. And there's a saying I love about that, which the theists could well have used: "Your lack of planning is not my emergency."
Comment by John Camilli on May 15, 2011 at 7:39pm

Okay, I totally agree with that. That's not the message I'm hearing from everyone else here though. You seem to be putting the onus where it actually lies, which is with the school for holding the tests in a church. It's not the church's fault for praying for any reason in its own demesnes. I also agree that the objection should have been made before the praying even happened, but it was not. Instead, the church was issued repeat warnings to cease and desist, which is an infringement on their right to worship as they please in their own building. Frankly, if I were a theist in this church, I would not have headed those warnings either. I'd have said 'If'n y'all don't like it, there's the doors...."


I think they are the ones who have the right to be pissed off and cry foul, not the parents and school district. And that's inspite of my disagreement with their ideals.

Comment by Grace Fitzpatrick on May 15, 2011 at 7:25pm

No, we're saying that 1) schools should hold tests in government buildings if the school is not available and 2) schools should do nothing which could be construed as supporting one religion or sect within a religion.  Because the government is supposed to stay out of the religion business.  By having the test in this church in the first place, it could be taken as the government supporting the Baptist church.  Frankly, theists should not like this either.  I'm sure Catholic parents don't want their kid being influenced by Lutherans.  They picked that church for a reason.  That's where they go, that's what they choose, that's what they like.  There's nothing wrong with that. 


But there is something wrong when a school (a government agency) for some odd reason decides to hold a test which the children are all required to attend in a Baptist church where the members pray over your children.  Religion is a very private personal choice.  And people have a right to raise their children in whatever faith they like without interference from the government.  The government does not have the right to say to parents "Hey, we're going to force your children to go to a Baptist church where they're going to be prayed over whether you like it or nor or regardless of whether you actually are a Baptist or agree with what the Baptists say."  


It doesn't matter it didn't hurt the kids.  What matters is, it's the parents decision whether or not to send their kids to church, whether they pray, how they pray, etc.  It's not the school's job to educate kids on faith.  That's the parents job.  It's their right to raise their kids in whatever religion  they like without interference from the government. 


Personally, I would have objected long before the prayer happened.  Giving the test in the first place was bad enough for me.  Plus, I'll bet the school actually paid that church to hold the test there.  A church is not an appropriate place to give a test anyway.  People are coming and going, talking, praying, doing whatever.  It's just not a quiet spot where kids can really concentrate on their test.  If they were praying while the children were trying to take the test, it could also possibly distract the kids from their test.  Anyone taking a test deserves peace and quiet.  One has to wonder in a city as large as Atlanta there were no public libraries, city hall, municipal buildings, universities. or any public buildings at all where these kids could take this test and avoided this issue altogether.   

Comment by John Camilli on May 15, 2011 at 6:28pm
Besides, I just said Im NOT defending theists, so where did that comment even come from. At least listen before you reject what I'm saying.
Comment by John Camilli on May 15, 2011 at 6:24pm

See, that's what I'm talking about right there. Why should anyone have to defend their opinions about how or why the universe works? No one should be under attack! You people are on the attack against theists and that makes you just as bigotted and controling as you accuse them of being. You DO NOT have superior answers! As far as how and why the universe is here, doing what it does, no one is an authority and no one is a minority. Get over yourselves and let people preach what they want to preach. If those church folk were molesting the kids, I'd say go ahead and get pissed about it, but they were praying with them before a test. The worst that can NOTHING! Unbelievable.

Comment by Grace Fitzpatrick on May 15, 2011 at 6:15pm
Are you saying theists are so simple and weak minded that they cannot defend themselves? I know a lot of smart, outspoken theists. Maybe I'm just lucky.
Comment by Grace Fitzpatrick on May 15, 2011 at 6:07pm
Theists are quite capable of defending themselves.  They do not need anyone's assistance in this regard.  They've proved this over and over.  They have many websites where they can voice anything they choose, but this is a safe spot for atheists and agnostics.  No one is stopping theists from
Comment by John Camilli on May 15, 2011 at 1:22pm

The reason I play devils advocate to all of you is not because I am defending theists; it's because I don't want atheists to become the new persecutors. It sounds to me like you would all ban religion entirely if you could, and short of that you will deride and condemn those who are religious just like theists once persecuted atheists for voicing their ideas! You remember Galileo in the tower? DesCartes and the pinneal gland?


Don't become the new church, people. Don't make the mistake of thinking your ideas are absolutely right and that others are idiots for thinking differently. You are just as likely as anyone else to be wrong about how the universe works. Trying to supress the ideas and expression of others is not ok by my standards. Of course, you may have different standards, but I wouldn't try to condemn you for yours. Take a lesson from that.

Comment by John Camilli on May 15, 2011 at 1:15pm

Aside from venting your frustration on someone whose ideas differ from yours, what specifically do you find to be ridiculous about my conclusions? The ideas I just mentioned don't even come from me. They come from most of the scientist you've ever heard of, so blame them for their idiotic conclusions, not me.


And I don't really care if you think I'm a theist. If you can't tell what I am by listenning to me, then you haven't learned enough to tell the difference, lol.



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