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(Screenshot credit: Suffolk Public Schools/YouTube)

School Board Meeting Erupts With Lord's Prayer After Woman Told She Can't Openly Pray for Students

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Virginia residents began uttering the Lord’s Prayer in unison during a school board meeting last month after a tense exchange between a woman and a board member who implored her not to publicly pray.

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Video of the Aug. 10 meeting of the Suffolk Public Schools shows what unfolded when an individual identified as Angela Kilgore sought to use some of her speaking time to pray for the public schools.

Kilgore invited others to bow their heads and join her and apologized if anyone objected. That’s when Suffolk Board Chair Tyron Riddick responded by telling her, “I apologize, we can’t do that.”

Kilgore asked why she couldn’t pray and clarified her intentions, according to The Christian Post.

“I like to pray for our students in our school,” she said, with Riddick telling the resident to return to her intended topic. “That’s not what you signed up to do, ma’am,” he said.

But Kilgore wasn’t deterred.

“That is my topic, sir,” she added, with Riddick again stating prayer wasn’t permitted at the time. At that point, Kilgore further questioned why invocations wouldn’t be allowed.

“To pray for our schools is not permitted?” she asked, to which Riddick again affirmed prayer wouldn’t be allowed. Kilgore encouraged others in the room to join her in prayer after the meeting concluded, stating the “only way that we’re going to come together is through God and our faith.”

Riddick proceeded to tell the audience he doesn’t “object to prayer,” but didn’t believe it was legally appropriate.

“I believe that man should always pray,” he said. “I mean, I love prayer, but this is not the place per the law.”

But as Riddick explained his position and asked an attorney to weigh in, the audience began reciting the Lord’s Prayer aloud. Someone can then be heard on a microphone asking if people should be removed from the room, and a recess was immediately called.

Watch it all unfold:

First Liberty Institute and Founding Freedoms Law Center, religious freedom watchdogs, wrote a letter earlier this month to Suffolk City School Board members, asking for clarification on the board’s prayer policy.

The letter said Riddick’s claim it would be unlawful to allow the prayer is improper and “mistaken.”

“This understanding is mistaken,” the letter reads, in part. “In fact, the Constitution prohibits the government from excluding religious expression from a public forum; it certainly does not require such censorship.”

The letter goes on to ask the school board to clarify its policy, with the legal firms offering to help craft a procedure that doesn’t “discriminate against religious citizens or violate their constitutional rights.”

Read the letter in its entirety here.

CBN’s Faithwire reached out to Riddick for comment and will update this story if and when that request is returned.

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