Pickens Co. school board adopts new prayer policy - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Pickens Co. school board adopts new prayer policy

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The School District of Pickens County school board approved non-sectarian prayer at their meetings. (Mar. 25, 2013/FOX Carolina) The School District of Pickens County school board approved non-sectarian prayer at their meetings. (Mar. 25, 2013/FOX Carolina)
PICKENS, SC (FOX Carolina) -

A final vote was held by the School District of Pickens County School Board that will keep students from leading the now non-sectarian prayers before meetings.

A new public invocation was approved by a 3-2 vote. The approved prayer allows board members to pray or offer a moment of silence before the school board's meetings.

Hundreds gathered at Monday's and previous meetings to speak up against the change in prayer at the meeting, including Rev. Paul Turner of Mount Carmel Baptist Church, who said he starts his day with a prayer. He said it changes things.

"I've seen it in my own life, where prayers were answered. I've seen people who were sick and healed, and I believe that it's a direct result of prayer," Turner said.

And he wanted to make sure his message of prayer was heard by the congregation gathered at recent Pickens County School Board meetings.

He said he delivered more than 4,000 petitions to board members in a fight to keep student-led prayer and prayers to Jesus Christ at the start of meetings.

"I believe it speaks to our freedom to pray and to call on Jesus. And I think we have that right," Turner said.

And even though the meeting started with prayer on Monday, Jesus was excluded and so was a student.

"Any families in Pickens County should not have to experience prayers to go to their board of trustees meetings. So we think they should just drop prayer altogether and get down to school business," Patrick Elliott said.

He's a lawyer with the group Freedom From Religion Foundation. Representatives with the organization threatened to sue the Pickens County School District if they didn't end student-led prayers. They said the prayers violate the establishment clause of the First Amendment.

"They can't have any practices or laws that affiliate the government with one religion," Elliott said.

And all though the board voted in favor to hold non-sectarian prayers, Turner said he will continue to bow his head.

"In Jesus name, Amen," Turner said as he finished his prayer.

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