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Here’s a story we’ve heard before: A school district was praying before football games over the public address system and before school board meetings. The Freedom From Religion Foundation tells them to put a stop to it. They do.

But in the Pea Ridge Public Schools in Arkansas, the response has been shock and disgust.

“I think giving [the school board] the opportunity [to pray] is better than taking it and removing it completely. I think there are more people upset about it than people are not upset about it,” said David Austin, Lead Pastor at the Ridge Church.

Austin says when he heard the news it was heartbreaking.

“Everyone has a right to pray or not to pray,” Austin said.

David Austin is not a smart man. Either that or he’s a liar. No one has taken away anyone’s right to pray. What Austin needs to explain is why his God is too weak to hear those prayers unless he hijacks the public school system to force them upon everyone.

The school board president isn’t helping the situation either. Rather than saying, “We screwed up. Now we’re going to fix it,” he’s blaming FFRF for calling out their illegal actions.

“I know that there is noticeably something absent from this meeting. Traditionally we have started our meetings with prayer,” said Pea Ridge School Board President Jeff Neil at Monday nights meeting. “I would say that the board certainly invites the prayers of the community for this district. This is not a decision that we take lightly, however, we have to be cognizant of the taxpayer’s money.

That’s another way of saying, “We would love to force Jews and Muslims to listen to our one-sided conversations with Jesus, but THOSE DAMN ATHEISTS told us we can’t, SO BLAME THEM, NOT US.”

They should be thanking FFRF for saving them the cost of a lawsuit they would have lost, not blaming them for stopping forced Christian prayers.

Anyone who wants to pray is welcome to do it on the drive to a game or board meeting, or in their heads during those activities. But unless they want to hear atheists and Satanists and Muslims and a host of other non-Christian groups use the system to advance their own views, they should get over themselves and accept that we don’t live in a theocracy.

(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Brian for the link)

Hemant Mehta is the founder of, a YouTube creator, podcast co-host, and author of multiple books about atheism. He can be reached at @HemantMehta.