What did all those kids who gathered at flagpoles outside their schools last week pray about?
At Westmoreland High School in Sumner County, Tennessee, teens who were among the 2 million nationwide who showed up early to pray said they did it to honor God and to make a public witness of their faith — but also to show their support for their teachers and coaches who were barred from participating in the event.
Others told reporters that they came to pray for the school board and — incredibly — for the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee which has filed a federal lawsuit, accusing the district of promoting Christianity.
“We prayed that the [ACLU] wouldn’t be a hindrance to us, but also that the Board of Education would change their thinking and stop appeasing the ACLU,” said one dad who brought his kids to the annual event.
“Many in the Westmoreland community for weeks have been in an uproar over controversy surrounding the reprimand of four Westmoreland Middle School coaches who were observed bowing their heads during a student-led prayer after a football game,” Jennifer Easton in the Gallatin News Examiner in an article that also was published on the Nashville Tennesseean website:
The coaches were required by Principal Danny Kay Robinson to sign letters acknowledging they would not be allowed to coach if they violated a new school board policy prohibiting school personnel from engaging in any conduct that appears to endorse an organization’s or club’s message.
The new policy is one of at least six changes the board has made in response to the ACLU-TN lawsuit since June.
Some who attended the See You At The Pole event said they felt the Board of Education had gone too far and were infringing on the rights of school employees to observe their faith.
Kayla Carter, a senior at Westmoreland High School, was at the pole to pray for her school and classmates, but also to pray for her teachers who couldn’t participate. “I think we all want to take a stand,” she said. “It’s upsetting and it’s not right teachers can’t pray with us.”
Former WHS Principal Dwayne Oldham, who retired earlier this year, did pray with students. “I think it’s important that kids have an example to go by,” Oldham said. “That’s something that’s lacking in our society today.”