Thanks to a New Texas Law, An Atheist Has Been Able to Document Prayers at School Board Meetings

May 31, 2016

By Hemant Mehta

On January 1 of this year, a new law went into effect in Texas. Among other things, HB 283 requires any school district with student enrollment of over 10,000 to essentially make video and audio recordings of all board meetings available to the public. Many districts, large and small, do this on their own already, but the TX law now mandates it for the larger ones.

That gave one reader of this site — let’s call him Bob — an idea: If all of these meetings are being recorded, we can finally have a record of which school boards are praying during meetings. Forget relying on a local citizen who just so happens to attend these meetings and knows to report these incidents.

If there was evidence of prayers at meetings, letters of complaint could be sent to the school boards urging them to stop proselytizing. And who knows, maybe one of these instances could lead to a court challenge that ultimately stops this practice for good. Make no mistake: School board prayers are different from city council invocations because they directly involve students. The Texas Association of School Boards even warns board members about including prayers at meetings:

Given the confusing history of the legality of prayer before school board meetings, what is a school board to do if it wishes to pray before board meetings? Essentially, the board needs to consult very carefully with its local counsel and weigh all of the pros and cons. The legal risks associated with the practice are obvious — courts around the country, and even in our own Fifth Circuit, are not consistent in their analysis. Choosing not to pray at school board meetings allows a school district to avoid the time and expense of confronting a legal challenge…

So even Texas is telling school boards not to pray if they want to avoid a legal challenge.

But even with all the data out there, someone would have to keep track of all those board meetings.

That’s just what Bob did.


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3 comments on “Thanks to a New Texas Law, An Atheist Has Been Able to Document Prayers at School Board Meetings

  • @OP – So even Texas is telling school boards not to pray if they want to avoid a legal challenge.

    But those wearing “faith-blinkers” will reinterpret advice and discount anything their god-delusions don’t like!
    Then the will play the martyr, when they are taken to task for unconstitutional activities!



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  • Excellent piece of work. And all properly documented, with “don’t take my word for it, here’s the raw data, see for yourself”. Just like real science. Well done Bob.



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  • Best line of topic: “urging them to stop proselytizing”
    Yes, we urge them to stop hurting the children.
    Ideally this same law will inevitably be publicly online, where even YouTube accounts will not proselytize their filth 🙂



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