A month after the U.S. Supreme Court made a historic ruling on religion, the Pickens County School District is taking action. At a meeting next week, the board's policy committee will look at changing how they pray before school board meetings.
"We're going to take public input on what the public would like us to do and then within that, we'll do what the law allows us to do," said Pickens County Schools Spokesperson John Eby.
In May, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled sectarian prayers before official meetings do not violate the constitution. It was based on a case in Greece, New York.
Right now the Pickens County School Board only allows non-sectarian, non-religious based prayers. It used to invite children to pray at meetings but changed the policy last year after a group threatened to sue. Now the policy could change again.
"Since then, the Supreme Court ruled in Greece, New York's prayer policy where they opened it up to a member of the community to come and deliver an invocation at the start of their town hall meetings, which would be similar to our school board meetings," said Eby.
The Pickens School Board is now considering something similar, allowing different clergy to pray before meetings. But first, it wants to hear from the public.
The folks we talked to say in the south, prayer is welcome at any meeting.
"It just never occurred to me that that would offend people because that's what I grew up with," said Pickens County resident John Janssen. "It never offended me when I was a child and it doesn't offend me today as an adult."
"To me it's a personal thing. If you do it, it's fine. If you don't want to prayer with them that's also fine," said Jennifer Melton, a mother of two Pickens County school students.
If you want to weigh in, the school district's policy committee is holding a public meeting Thursday, June 19th at 5:30 p.m. at the district office in Easley.
After that, committee members tell us they'll make a recommendation to the full school board which meets again June 23rd.
We checked prayer policies at other Upstate school districts. Spartanburg District 5 tells us it opens school board meetings with prayer.
In Anderson District 5, we're told a board member delivers an all-inclusive, vague prayer before its meetings.
Greenville County Schools say a board member delivers a non-sectarian prayer at its meetings.
We're told none of these districts plan to change their policy.
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