District allows prayer meetings at school, receives letter for being 'unconstitutional'

GRIFFIN, Ga. — The Griffin-Spalding County School District is under fire for allowing prayer meetings at Spalding High School.

Channel 2 Action News reporter Lauren Davis reports the school says they're well within their constitutional rights, stating students are praying before classes begin.

The American Humanist Association sent a letter to Superintendent James Smith stating a concerned parent alerted them that the high school hosted a prayer breakfast and sermon for football players provided by a local church.

The organization also said the school then reposted a Facebook post from the church.

Monica Miller with the American Humanist Association says the issue is "the school promoted the church on Facebook further giving the government stamp of approval to religious activity."


The letter from the AHA says the activities are plainly unconstitutional and asks them to terminate this and any similar illegal activity.

Davis contacted the school for a comment and they sent a statement stating the event was a Fellowship of Christian Athletes meeting and attendance by any student is voluntary.

The school went on to state that the softball team participated in a student-initiated, student-led prayer.

Davis talked to a dozen parents at the school to get both sides of the issue, and found no one in support of the letter.

Parent Sharon Helms says, "I'm a Christian myself and we need prayer. We don't need to stop it."

The school doesn't plan on changing the prayers because they say they are within their constitutional rights.

The AHA says they requested a written response from the school, which they haven't received. Miller tells Channel 2 Action News they will look into the matter further if they don't hear from the school.

The AHA says they recently won a similar case in Florida involving a police station.

Below is the statement from the Griffin-Spalding County School System:

The Griffin-Spalding County School System can confirm receipt of the letter from the American Humanist Association on September 16.

Every Friday morning at 7 a.m., the Fellowship of Christian Athletes meet at Spalding High School. Attendance by any student is voluntary. The football coach knew that the Fellowship of Christian Athletes met at that time, so he invited a couple of churches to provide breakfast for them during football season.

The Spalding High School Girls Softball Team participated in a student-initiated, student led prayer. The coach was standing there in silence with his head bowed, out of respect for the students who were gathered in prayer. The other group photo was a team from another county.

Based on the district's review, our students and staff were in compliance with the law.