Prayer issue sparking 'civil war' in West Branch district


Some West Branch Schools students say their academic environment has become tense after the district curtailed prayer before athletic games in January.

“It’s kind of like a civil war,” said senior student Mikayla Barker. “Some students are against [praying at school] and a majority are for it. The tension at school is at an all-time high for everyone.”

The district halted prayer before athletic games after receiving a letter Jan. 18 from the Freedom From Religion Foundation pointing out the practice is unconstitutional.

In response, parents and community members have been taking sides. Some have made T-shirts that read “Prayer Matters” featuring the school’s Indians mascot. Others designed shirts seeking an all-inclusive environment featuring “Coexist” spelled by using symbols of many religions. It also sports the Warriors’ logo.

Students say they can feel the divide.

“Lately it’s been [said] ‘Don’t come to the games then if you don’t want to pray’ or ‘The majority of the school is Christian, so we’re not changing for you,’” Barker said.

Read more about the matter in Wednesday's Vindicator or on

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