Tags: School Prayer | school prayer | New Hampshire | lawsuit

Notable Lawsuit Over School Prayer in New Hampshire

By    |   Monday, 06 Jul 2015 02:44 PM

In 2013, mother Lizarda Urena drew fire after she began praying on the steps of Concord High School's auditorium in New Hampshire each morning.

Urena started daily prayers after her daughter had been bullied at school. She said she hoped to pray for those students who had upset her daughter, and she continued her vigil for four months, showing up to recite scripture there.

ALERT: Should Prayer Be Allowed in Public Schools? Vote Now

An investigation by the Freedom From Religion Foundation of her conduct prompted the group to write a letter asking the school district to keep Urena from praying at the school, according to the Christian News Network. The district first told her not to pray aloud, but then it banned her from being there altogether.

"She’s not teaching prayer; she’s not out there asking kids to come with [her],” Concord High School Principal Gene Connolly told the Concord Monitor in an interview defending her conduct. “She does not promote religion.”

But others said the district probably should not have allowed her to be there, as the incident sparked national headlines.

“To be fair to all the kids in the school, it is probably best for the principal to say that she shouldn’t be speaking out like this and proselytizing on school grounds,” school board President Kassandra Ardinger, according to the Christian News Network. “The best mode of action was to tell her to cool it.”‘

The district had no formal policy on prayers at the school.

As the case continued, Urena was represented by attorneys from The Alliance Defending Freedom.

According to the Monitor
, the group's general counsel Matthew Sharp said: "We think the facts in this one really matter. She was (praying) passively. I think she was providing a great example there of just a mother that is passionate about wanting what’s best for her kids.”

He said that the FFRF's contention that her prayers violated the separation of church and state were "blatantly false," the Monitor noted. “It’s the private speech of a parent, not the endorsed speech of the school."

Urena pledged at the time to move her vigil across the street from the school.

URGENT: Should Students Be Allowed to Pray in Public Schools? Vote Here Now!

New Hampshire has a state statute that allows five minutes of silence before classes begin each day for "the free exercise of religion." Following along with federal law, teachers there may not supervise such expressions and the school itself cannot participate in prayers, according to FindLaw.com.

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In 2013, mother Lizarda Urena drew fire after she began praying on the steps of Concord High School's auditorium in New Hampshire each morning. Urena started daily prayers after her daughter had been bullied at school.
school prayer, New Hampshire, lawsuit
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2015-44-06
Monday, 06 Jul 2015 02:44 PM
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