Tuesday, February 13, 2024

No Prayer At Prosser, WA School Board Meetings?

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A suggestion that the Prosser School Board should open its meetings with prayer has resulted in student objections and threats of legal action from a national atheist organization.

During a meeting recently, board member Frank Vermulm randomly brought up the topic of starting their meetings with a prayer after the Pledge of Allegiance. He suggested he or a pastor could lead the prayers and cited “a lot of issues” that the community and school district are facing.

Evil never takes a day off.

Be informed, not misled.

Students object to "prayer" in school board meetings.

“I just think we could use some divine intervention,” Vermulm told his fellow school board members, a town located in central Washington State.

The Tri-City Herald reported, "While other school board members expressed interest in discussing the issue further, the board’s student representatives pushed back. 'I don’t think that religion should be brought up in schools at all. I don’t think that should happen,' said student representative Yoshimi Garcia. She described herself as an atheist and said it would be disrespectful to people who come from different religious backgrounds."

Those kinds of narcissistic comments always cause me to wonder if she is aware that her anti-Christian rhetoric is also "disrespectful" to people who believe in God and the Bible?

I don't wonder for very long because I know the answer. It's no.

“I would tend to agree,” said another student representative, Noah Dempsey. “I think that that should be something that’s excluded. I mean, there’s already enough controversy when it comes to saying the Pledge of Allegiance. Why bring more controversy into something that doesn’t need it?”

That comment reminds me of something Abraham Lincoln once said: "The philosophy of the school room in one generation will be the philosophy of the government in the next."

This incident is a snapshot of that fact in progress. 

Atheists join the students.

The atheist group, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, also set its sights on the Prosser School Board.

Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the Wisconsin-based organization, said, “Our public schools are paid for by anybody and everybody, including those with no religion,” adding that opening meetings with prayer sends a “disrespectful signal” toward students.

She warned the FFRF would consider a lawsuit if the school board moves forward with the prayer idea.

“We hope that the students’ perspective has caused the board to permanently reconsider its unlawful prayer plan,” she said. “School board members are free to pray on their own time and dime, but should not misuse their civil authority to impose prayer on others.”

The FFRF first reached out to the Prosser School Board on Jan. 25 with a letter from staff attorney Chris Line, who argued the U.S. Supreme Court has routinely struck down instances of prayer at school-sanctioned events because it constitutes “government favoritism towards religion.”

Freedom From Religion Foundation has a history of threatening schools and school boards with lawsuits, knowing most schools cave under the pressure of the "threatening letter," and they win without the cost of going to court.

However, sometimes, people of faith take a stand.

You remember that Washington state high school football coach Joe Kennedy won his case with the high court in 2022. After a seven-year legal battle, the coach was victorious when the Supreme Court Justices ruled he had the constitutionally protected right to pray on the field.

You may not remember that at that time, Laurie Gaylor called Kennedy’s claim that he prayed alone at the 50-yard line “phony” and “dishonest.”

RE: Laurie Gaylor's husband, Dan Barker.

1. Dan became a teenage evangelist at age 15. At 16, he was choir librarian for faith-healer Kathryn Kuhlman’s Los Angeles appearances. He received a degree in Religion from Azusa Pacific University and was ordained to the ministry by the Standard Community Church in California in 1975. He served as associate pastor in three California churches: Arcadia Friend’s Church (Quaker), Glengrove Assembly of God (Hacienda Heights), and Standard Christian Center, an independent church loosely affiliated with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ tradition) in Standard, California. Dan was a Protestant missionary in Mexico for a total of two years.

2. Dan preached for 19 years. He maintained an ongoing touring musical ministry, including eight years of full-time, cross-country evangelism. An accomplished pianist, record producer, arranger, and songwriter, he worked with Christian music companies such as Manna Music and Word Music. Dan wrote and produced the annual “Mini Musicale” for Gospel Light Publications’ Vacation Bible School curriculum for a few years.

3. For more than two decades, Dan was accompanist, arranger, and record producer for Manuel Bonilla, the leading Christian singer in the Spanish-speaking world. He accompanied on the piano such Christian personalities as Pat Boone, Jimmy Roberts (of the Lawrence Welk Show), and gospel songwriter Audrey Meier, and was a regular guest on Southern California’s “Praise The Lord” TV show (Spanish). One of Dan’s Christian songs, “There Is One,” was performed by Rev. Robert Schuller’s television choir on the “Hour of Power” broadcast. To this day, he receives royalties from his popular children’s Christian musicals, “Mary Had a Little Lamb” (1977) and “His Fleece Was White As Snow” (1978), both published by Manna Music and performed in many countries.

4. According to his biography, Dan gradually outgrew his religious beliefs after five years of reading. “If I had limited myself to Christian authors, I’d still be a Christian today,” Dan says. “I just lost faith in faith.” He announced his atheism publicly in January 1984. He tells his story in the books Losing Faith in Faith (1992) and Godless (2008).

During my years of ministry in Los Angeles, I crossed paths with Dan in city-wide events sponsored by the evangelical churches as an outreach to the city. 

He is, indeed, an outstanding musician.  

He and his wife are now fighting against the God he once served.


Prosser School District Superintended Kim Casey offered a brief response to the FFRF: “We are in receipt of your letter. We have not taken any action on this matter; it was strictly a discussion.”

The spiritual war rages on.

Remember, "Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world."

Be Informed. Be Discerning. Be Engaged. Be Faithful. Be Prayerful.