I'm used to the prayers, offered by various ministers, that begin Memphis City Council and Shelby County Commission meetings. And the Memphis City School board begins its meetings with a moment of silence.
But at Thursday's special called meeting of the SCS board, David Pickler said that they started their meetings with prayer. But since they couldn't pray at the meeting, they would go into the hall and everyone who wanted to pray was welcome.
From what I could tell, most if not all of the board members went into the hall, as did many others (most wearing SCS employee badges). A man (not sure who) prayed, referred to Matthew 19:26 and everyone amen'ed.
This was odd for many reasons, including the fact that Pickler is wrong - they could pray at the meeting. An attorney told me that elected bodies can begin their meetings with prayer; Pickler's assertion to the contrary came across as lingering resentment over the separation of church and state and the general sense by conservatives that God has been taken out of schools.
I wonder how parents, students, faculty and staff who are Muslim, Jewish, agnostic or atheist would feel, to see the board file into the hall to pray to a Christian God. Or maybe SCS doesn't have any students, faculty or staff who aren't Christian?
Wendi C. Thomas is a metro columnist for The Commercial Appeal. Follow her on twitter at @wendi_c_thomas.