New Hampshire Mother Told By School Officials She Can't Pray

Last I checked, the Constitution of the United States guaranteed American citizens freedom of religion. It's right there in the First Amendment:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

While the First Amendment specifically forbids Congress from making laws restricting religious freedom, the 14th amendment allows for the incorporation of the bill of rights to include the states. Courts have upheld that freedom of religion applies at the state level as well.

What then, should we make of a high school principal telling a woman she can no longer pray in front of a high school in New Hampshire amidst complaints from a group called the "Freedom From Religion Foundation" and possibly some parents at the high school? According to their website, the purpose of the Freedom From Religion Foundation is as follows:

" The purposes of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc., as stated in its bylaws, are to promote the constitutional principle of separation of state and church, and to educate the public on matters relating to nontheism." reports that Lizarda Urena started praying while standing on school steps when she heard bullets were found in a restroom at the school her children attend. She's apparently been setting up shop before school starts in the morning on the steps leading up to the school and has been praying and reciting passages from a Bible she's holding. That raised the ire of some in the community, leading school officials to tell her she could no longer pray on school property.

Urena reportedly has been told to stop praying aloud on school property. An argument could be made that allowing her to continue is tantamount to the school sanctioning her religious beliefs and if they allow her to do it, they have to allow other religious parents the right to sermonize on campus as well.

I can't help but wonder if those who are angered by this decision would feel the same if it were a wiccan casting spells on the children or a member of a Satanic cult standing there. Church and state are separated for good reason, but this is a grey area.

It isn't clear whether Urena has been told to stop praying altogether or just to stop praying aloud. If she's been told to stop praying aloud, she can still set up on the steps and pray silently. If not, she can move her prayers off-campus. Move the prayer session to a sidewalk just off-campus and there's nothing the school can do about it.

As for Urena and the school district, both may get their chance to plead their case in court. The Alliance Defending Freedom is looking at the case, but hasn't yet made a decision as to whether they're going to pursue it in court.