CULLMAN, Ala. (AP) – An Alabama school superintendent denies that the system is sponsoring a “prayer caravan” event that’s drawn complaints from an atheist group.
Cullman County School Superintendent Billy Coleman is also a pastor, and he has helped promote the event. Coleman has said his involvement in the prayer caravan is causing confusion, but he denies that the school board itself is behind the event. The caravan is expected to feature prayer sessions at each of the district’s schools lasting for between 15 and 20 minutes each.
“I absolutely appreciate the board for doing what they needed to do to clear the air and protect our school system,” Coleman told the Cullman Times Wednesday. “Now, the prayer caravan can move forward as what it was intended to be from the beginning, supported by communities and local churches.”
The Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation still opposes the prayer event, which is set for Saturday, Aug. 10.
“Wishing or stating that ‘the school system doesn’t sponsor’ the event does not make it so,” Freedom From Religion Foundation attorney Andrew Seidel said in a statement. “This event was organized by the Superintendent, who used his official power to post the event on the official district website, to post the event on the official district Facebook page, and the event bears the title ‘Cullman County Schools Prayer Caravan.’”
Christians plan to gather at each Cullman County school that day for prayer sessions before the opening of the academic year.
Cullman schools regularly promote religion to students despite laws separating church and state, Seidel said.
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