ACLU: Staff, student prayer groups must stop in Lincoln Co. - - Jackson, MS

ACLU: Staff, student prayer groups must stop in Lincoln Co.

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Thursday morning at West Lincoln Attendance Center (Source: Viewer) Thursday morning at West Lincoln Attendance Center (Source: Viewer)
LINCOLN COUNTY, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

The letter from Mississippi's American Civil Liberties Union states West Lincoln Attendance Center's Principal and Cross Country Coach Jason Case leads prayer groups with students, sermonizes during faculty meetings and urges members of the school community to model themselves after Jesus.

We talked to Case Thursday. He denies leading prayer groups, and students we talked to back him up.

"He doesn't lead us in prayer. All the cross country team members would get in a circle, put their arms around each other and say the Lord's prayer," said 11th grader Matt Gill.

Case and Lincoln County Schools Superintendent Terry Brister say other allegations in the complaint are under review.

We're told staff members have at times prayed with students. But that's seen as a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which prohibits government from promoting religious beliefs.

We asked Brister what he knew about the religious activities at the school.

"I didn't know anything. I was caught off guard," he said.

Brister tells us he will abide by the directives in the letter. That means no more religious icons in the school, such as crosses hanging on doors, and staff members can no longer pray with students.

Students, however, can pray openly whenever they wish.

Gill and fellow 11th grader Emily Walker understand that it's law but say it's unfair.

"I've been going to West Lincoln for five years, and I have never witnessed anyone forcing anything on me," Walker said.

"Us standing up for what we believe in, we're just doing what God has told us to do," added Gill.

We asked Brister if he wished the rules were different.

"I do wish the rules were different, but I don't control that. That's something that's controlled by law. We have to abide by it as a state entity," he said.

Mississippi ALCU Legal Director Bear Atwood says if the school district becomes compliant with the Constitution, the matter will be dropped. 

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