Prayer controversy continues in Cullman

Prayer controversy continues in Cullman

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The controversy over prayer in Cullman continues. Source: WBRC video The controversy over prayer in Cullman continues. Source: WBRC video
Attorney Andrew Seidel with the Freedom From Religion Foundation says his group is investigating possible separation of church and state violations at Cullman County Schools. Attorney Andrew Seidel with the Freedom From Religion Foundation says his group is investigating possible separation of church and state violations at Cullman County Schools.
Superintendent Billy Coleman says he wants to make sure the school doesn't violate the Constitution, but he also doesn't want citizens' rights to be taken away. Source: WBRC video Superintendent Billy Coleman says he wants to make sure the school doesn't violate the Constitution, but he also doesn't want citizens' rights to be taken away. Source: WBRC video
CULLMAN, AL (WBRC) -

The controversy over prayer continues in Cullman as school leaders react to more allegations from the Freedom From Religion Foundation.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation group says since its original objection to a "prayer caravan" it has uncovered more issues at the school district when it comes to prayer.

Superintendent Billy Coleman was surprised to hear about this, but is taking it very seriously. He says he respects the group's concerns and the board will look into any problem brought to its attention.

The Freedom from Religion Foundation is not stopping at the prayer caravan. Attorney Andrew Seidel is also investigating other possible separation of church and state violations.

"We have reports of prayers at graduation for Cullman County High School. Prayers in schools themselves, we've had report of preachers going into schools on weekly basis, into elementary schools on a weekly basis. So these are all issues that have come to light," Seidel said.

Seidel says his office is working to make sure the Cullman County school district is abiding by the constitution.

"Our system does not violate these laws. We don't believe you should force faith on anybody," Superintendent Billy Coleman said.

Coleman says some students do have brief devotion periods, but they're held before school hours and not in classrooms.

"Well, laws established that you can have Bible studies before, and you can't have them during school hours, there has to be a faculty member sponsor that event. Of course you have to have supervision of the kids," he said.

And when it comes to graduation, Coleman says, "We have students who give speeches. Some chose to say a prayer and some don't. That's their right, nobody's forced to say it. I've yet to see a constitutional law that says you can't act like a Christian."

While Coleman says he wants to make sure the school system isn't violating the Constitution, he also wants to make sure rights of citizens aren't taken away.

"The Constitutional rights that people have to express their faith in the appropriate situation," Coleman said.

Coleman says he hasn't had any complaints from parents about devotions in schools or prayers at school functions.

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