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ACLU chapter: School prayer can make students feel like outsiders

JACKSON — The ACLU of Mississippi says it supports constitutionally protected, voluntary student-led prayer in school for students who want to pray.

What ACLU-MS does not support, it reports in a release, is “any policy or practice that violates the Constitution.”

This includes the practice of schools promoting one religious belief over another, “therefore making a child of a different belief feel like an outsider or ostracized.”

It is the position of ACLU that religious education is best left to parents and their children, not public school officials. When school officials promote religion, they infringe on parents’ rights to decide what religious beliefs, if any, their children are taught.

“All students should feel welcome at school, no matter what they believe. Our public schools should be focused on education, not religious indoctrination,” said Bear Atwood, legal director at the ACLU of Mississippi.

“Allowing public schools to promote particular religions undermines our rich traditions of peaceful pluralism and religious diversity.  Mississippi’s population is becoming increasingly diverse.  Let’s respect the beauty of our differences.  It is what will make us a stronger state,” said Jennifer Riley-Collins, executive director at the ACLU of Mississippi.

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