Hawaiian Charter School Taking Heat Over Prayers

In Hawaii, Kawaikini Charter School Business Manager Stuart Rosenthal filed a complaint, claiming that his school often begins the day with compulsory Christian prayers. He told the Honolulu Civil Beat, “I work for a public school and am a state employee. I should not be forced to pray to Jesus Christ." Rosenthal also thinks his complaints have cost him his job. The school removed his position for the coming school year, claiming budget issues. Rosenthal does not believe their explanation. In addition, a newly-hired administrator responded to Rosenthal’s complaints by allegedly telling him “prayer is an important part of who we are."

It's been over 50 years since the Supreme Court ruled school-sponsored prayers to be unconstitutional. Hawaii has found this difficult to follow as many of Hawaii’s charter schools offer classes on the Hawaiian culture or language, with pule, or prayer, such a huge part of tradition in Hawaiian culture. Another state facing a similar issue is North Carolina, where a charter school board recently banned prayer instruction in school after a teacher taught and handed out prayer pamphlets.

The North Carolina board passed a policy clarifying that "[n]o person is required to participate in prayer," the site documents. The decision angered many, and one man said "If you deny these children the right to pray, you will stand in front of Jesus and he will deny you." Although, the board's policy allows for a "moment of quiet reflection."

Photo: Tea Trinity, Hawaiian Free Press

Rosenthal says the prayer was compulsory.

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