The school serves K-12 academically, but the ACLU says teachers and the principal are also ministering to the spiritual needs of students and staff, which ACLU representative Bear Atwood told us is unconstitutional.
"Praying at football games-even the U.S. Fifth Circuit (court) says you can't pray at football games," she said. "Hanging crosses on the walls, praying at assemblies, proselytizing to faculty-that is well-settled law and it is not allowed under the United States Constitution."
Bear Atwood Interview
Atwood said she believes it is the administration and faculty leading the way.
"Certainly the principal is very proactive about this. But, we understand teachers lead prayer in classes, before meals, before exams."
We called Superintendent Terry Brister (left-courtesy the district website). He said he is investigating the matter.
"We will adjust accordingly to abide by all laws. Although we will abide by all laws of the Constitution and the United States, I will not deny the civil rights of any students or faculty," he said.
Atwood acknowledged that the law allows for student-led religious activity.
"Children are welcome to pray. They can bow their heads and pray before lunch. They are welcome to pray before they play football. What can't happen is for faculty to lead that prayer."
Atwood also said Christian athletic clubs and any other student Christian activity can meet and not face opposition by the ACLU, so long as all other clubs get equal treatment.
Brister told us the ACLU has had problems with activities at all four schools in the past few years, but he believes the district is headed in the right direction, pointing out that West Lincoln is a Blue Ribbon School. That honor has gone to only three schools in the state for the year.
He said students at the school are civic-minded and many of them meet for church-related or other positive activities each day. This statement is from the district website:
The Lincoln County Schools are recognized for their comprehensive approach to education and while emphasizing the importance of education we also recognize the importance of extra-curricular activities. There is an apparent pride in each school displayed by students, teachers, administrators and school patrons. Our mission is to provide students with a quality education that reflects the needs of our community and enables each student to succeed.
Atwood indicated the ACLU only had a problem with what happens on public property.