Richmond councilwoman plans citywide school prayer event

Published: Sep. 25, 2013 at 4:40 AM EDT|Updated: Oct. 5, 2013 at 4:40 AM EDT
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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A Richmond city councilwoman is announcing plans for a citywide prayer event at all Richmond Public Schools. But is this legal? We took that question to our legal analyst.

Councilwoman Michelle Mosby is planning to hold a Citywide Community Unity Hour of Prayer at all Richmond Public Schools on Saturday, October 5, 2013.

"So that we can pray for the education of our young people," said Councilwoman Michelle Mosby. "And we can pray for the safety of our young people."

The councilwoman has started a growing list of pastors to send to each school for one hour of simultaneous prayer.

"As I sit here now," said NBC 12 legal analyst Steve Benjamin. "I can't be satisfied that this is acceptable."

Benjamin says he can hear the complaints.

"How dare you try and use a school to send a message to our children that religion is good," Benjamin expects some parents to say. "That's not your job. That's not what the school buildings are here for."

Mosby notes the event will be held on a Saturday.

"I don't feel like we are breaking the law," said Mosby. "We are outside of the schools."

Mosby made the announcement in the Praise 104.7 studios.

"It's on a Saturday," said radio host Sheilah Belle, "The Belle". "It's not in a school. People have nothing to complain about."

Benjamin disagrees.

"Anything that gives the appearance that the city or the school system is promoting religion is forbidden," said Benjamin. "You simply can't do that."

Mosby says she has clearance from school officials.

"I've had meetings with the superintendent of Richmond Public Schools," said Mosby. "Richmond Public Schools is not a sponsor for this event, however we have the permit to be at these events."

The councilwoman says she is moving forward with the school prayer event.

"I really pray for your event on Saturday, October 5th," said Belle. "That we don't have any opposition or people acting the fool."

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