LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — The Clark County School District Board of Trustees is ending a practice of praying to a higher power before general board meetings after an out-of-state organization complained it was an unconstitutional violation of church and state.
There will be a noticeable silence at the next Clark County School District Board of Trustees meeting.
The change is effective immediately after the nonprofit Freedom From Religion Foundation wrote a letter dated December 20 to the school district.
The letter lists a number of legal decisions and calls the practice "coercive, embarrassing, and intimidating for non-religious citizens to be required to make a public showing of their non-belief (by not rising or praying)."
"It should be a parent decision on what happens in our school system," said Antonio Bowen, a candidate for the Clark County School District Board of Trustees, who also happens to be a youth pastor.
Bowen is questioning the immediacy of the change.
The Madison, a Wisconsin-based organization, which says it protects the constitutional principle of the separation of church and state, received a letter from the Clark County School District dated January 10, indicating the prayers, or invocations, would stop.
"I think a lot of the times we don't wanna dialogue. I think dialogue should happen with us so we can find a resolution a happy medium just as much as I wanna pray, you may not want to pray, so how do we make that happen I think there's room for everybody in the room," said Pastor Q Allen King.
The ACLU of Nevada released a statement to 13 Investigates:
“We believe strongly in the separation of church and state and appreciate the decision of the CCSD Board of Trustees. Prayers at public meetings can alienate atheists, the non-religious, and those with different religious traditions.”
13 Investigates reached out to a school board trustee Tuesday, but they declined to comment. 13 Investigates has also learned there will be a 30 second moment of silence before the next board meeting.
Some pastors plan to pack the next meeting on Thursday to speak to the board about the decision.