Prayer event takes place at all Richmond public schools - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

Prayer event takes place at all Richmond public schools

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -

A controversial, city-wide prayer gathering was weeks in the making and Saturday, it happened. NBC12 first reported about Richmond Councilwoman Michelle Mosby's plans to hold a city-wide prayer event for all Richmond schools. There's been a lot of talk about whether that event should even happen.

Organizers say they just wanted a neutral place to show how prayer will help our schools, so they chose every school in Richmond. They followed the proper protocol to assemble. Still, there are many convinced a public school isn't the place to do it. 

"This is about anybody that believes in prayer and when I looked it up, it says all religions pray," Councilwoman Michelle Mosby said.

All 51 Richmond public schools were assigned Saturday to a local minister, each joining in prayer.

"If you are Muslim, you're welcome. If you are Buddhist, you're welcome," Mosby said.

She organized the prayer gathering and says she doesn't understand the criticism.

"Are you offended by the backlash?" we asked.

"Yes, I really am because those that are doing the backlash didn't call to say can I be a part and got an answer of no," Mosby said.

But some are saying not so fast.

"You simply can't do that," said NBC12 legal analyst Steve Benjamin.

He had concerns when this idea first surfaced.

"Anything that gives the appearance that the city or the school system is promoting religion is forbidden," Benjamin said.

But Mosby says Richmond Schools Superintendent's office signed off on the city-wide prayer and local ministers didn't hesitate to join in.

"Keep the guns out of school, keep the teachers focused on what their supposed to be doing and keep the children's minds open so they might receive what the teachers are doing," said Rev. Lela Smith.

While the event was going on, many NBC12 viewers took to Facebook to weigh in.

"Why is there an issue? Our schools need a lot of prayer and so does this nation," wrote Pammy Turley.

"These are public schools and religion needs to be kept out. Feel free to do so anywhere else," Thomas Blakenship added.

Fourth grader Jeremiah Grey was there and enjoyed the prayer.

"They should agree because I'm praying to the Lord," the young student said.

Mosby says there were no protests or disruptions at any of the schools during the prayer event. She says she would like to see the event continue in the future but under different leadership.

Copyright 2013 WWBT NBC12.  All rights reserved.

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