If a tree falls in the forest, will anyone hear its prayers? The answer is evidently yes, provided the forest is located within the the Mora (N.M.) Independent School District, and the tree moreover will be told to put a sock in it.
According to ABC affiliate KOAT in Albuquerque, the latest assault on religious freedom occurred within those boundaries when Rikki Ashe, a sophomore, began to pray before lunch and was allegedly told by an administrator that prayer was verboten. Said the girl’s father, Patrick Ashe
[She] came home from school and she said, ‘Dad I have something to tell you. Today for lunch right before I was going to eat, I bowed my head to pray, and the superintendent came up to me and said I couldn’t do that.
He added, “It’s just very important to me to thank God for putting food on your table and for leading you through life.”
As was noted in connection with an earlier story in which a 5-year-old was also told by a lunchroom staff member that she was not permitted to pray, the so-called establishment clause of the First Amendment does not prohibit prayer on the part of the individual. Neither, according to KOAT does New Mexico state law, which prohibits schools from instilling religious doctrines, but preserves a student’s religious freedoms.
The girl claims that she was praying silently to herself and that she was told to stop by District Superintendent Dora Romero. Romero claims she gave no such order but said she is investigating the allegation.