Pickens Co. school board may vote on prayer issue Monday - FOX Carolina 21

Pickens Co. school board may vote on prayer issue Monday

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The School District of Pickens County school board heard from the community about the potential for nondenominational prayer on Monday. (Jan. 28, 2013/FOX Carolina) The School District of Pickens County school board heard from the community about the potential for nondenominational prayer on Monday. (Jan. 28, 2013/FOX Carolina)
EASLEY, SC (FOX Carolina) -

A decision could be made Monday night about a controversial prayer issue with the Pickens County School District.

In January, the Pickens County School Board voted to look into nonsectarian prayer, a form of nondenominational worship, for the start of their meetings. It's possible they could vote to make a transition to nonsectarian prayer Monday night.

Last year, a complaint was filed by the Wisconsin based Freedom From Religion Foundation. They asked the school district to end their practice of holding student-led prayer at the start of their meetings or threatened legal action.

The school district said the South Carolina attorney general suggested a nonsectarian policy that is within the law, but some people in Pickens County are not happy with that solution.

Pastor Paul Turner and his wife created petition forms for those who want to keep prayer the way it has been. He said so far he's gotten more than 3,000 signatures from adults and about 300 from Pickens County School District students.

Supporters of the petition say prayer nonsectarian style isn't prayer at all.

"The Bible tells us to pray in Jesus name if we want God to answer us, so I believe all prayers should be in Jesus name," said Turner of Mount Carmel Baptist Church in Easley.

Supporters plan to attend Monday's school board meeting in the hundreds, just as they did at January's meeting. They said they will plead board members to fight and keep God in their meetings they also say they aren't just protecting Christians, but people of any religion.

"I don't believe anybody in any religion who would pray, would pray without addressing their God," said Turner.

Turner told FOX he supports those of other religions also receiving the same rights he is fighting for at the school board meeting.

But the Pickens County School District said this plan isn't about keeping religion of out schools, but following the law.

"This policy is not what the group in Wisconsin has asked for, their letter has made us look at our policy and contact the state attorney and our attorneys to find out what is legal," said district spokesman John Eby.  

The school district said the Freedom From Religion Foundation hasn't filed a lawsuit against the school district at this time.

"There's been no lawsuits filed, so I'm hoping they won't allow a threat to stop them from continuing what they've been doing for many years," said Turner.

But school district officials said they're not in a position to take legal chances.

"We always want our policies to be legal to comply with the law," said Eby. "When we get a letter from the state attorney general that says, 'This is what's legal this is what complies with the law, your current practice doesn't comply,' then we have to look at it."

The school board may choose to vote on the issue Monday night, but a vote is not required to take place at this meeting.

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