The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) has sent a complaint letter to the Baldwin County School system after a social media post by Foley High School showed a student-made “prayer mirror” in the girls’ bathroom.
The Facebook post was made on November 9.
“Foley student Keyla Castro started a positive affirmation campaign in our girls’ bathroom,” the post stated. “We know how powerful words can be, and we are proud of Keyla for taking the initiative to do this!”
Following the post, local news media interviewed the 15-year-old. She told Fox 10 that the purpose of the wall was to provide positive affirmations for other girls in the school.
The reaction to the television news story was positive among Alabamians. Organizations across the state shared the story with a largely positive response. However, the Wisconsin-based FFRF did not share the sentiment, and they put the project under fire by calling it a violation of rights.
In a letter to Baldwin County School Board attorney Sarah Young, FFRF attorney Chris Line said he had a “constitutional” concern with the prayer mirror. He said his organization received multiple complaints regarding the display.
“It is our understanding that this display was started by a student, but that the high school has authorized the display and promoted it on its official Facebook page, praising the student for her religious project,” Line stated in the letter.
Line said the problem with the wall is the religious aspect.
“It appears that the District has taken to calling it a ‘positive affirmation wall’ to avoid the fact that it has established a forum for religious messages in one of its bathrooms,” Line said. “The majority of the messages reference Jesus, bible verses, or otherwise promote Christianity; it is clearly labeled ‘Prayer Mirror,’ and students are instructed to ‘write your own prayer!’
“While we can certainly understand why the District would want to create a forum for students to provide messages of positivity and affirmation to boost its students’ morale, the District cannot do so through a ‘prayer mirror’ where students are encouraged to post prayer requests, bible verses, and other religious messages.”
The FFRF asked Foley High School to remove the display and claimed it shows favoritism towards religion over nonreligion and holds Christianity above all other faiths.
The school system and the prayer mirror did not mention Christianity in any way and did not discourage students from other religions or unaffiliated students from posting positive affirmations. Other student programs within Baldwin County Schools have religious objectives, such as “See You at the Pole” and “Fellowship of Christian Athletes.”
The school system also partners with churches throughout the county for the Baldwin County Education Coalitions’s Faith-Based Initiative, a movement to connect church members to schools in their communities.
The prayer wall was not a school-sponsored project.
Line did not respond to a phone call from 1819 News.
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