ACLU eyes district wide prayer event at Richmond schools

Posted at 12:17 AM, Oct 02, 2013
and last updated 2013-10-02 00:17:37-04

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR)--Richmond city council member Michelle Mosby says violence in schools nationwide is out of control.

"I don't ever want to get that call, I just don’t want to get that call," said Mosby

She dreads ever getting a call that tragedy has hit Richmond, a concern that gave away to motivation, she said.

"I woke up one morning and it's what God had given me," said Mosby.

Mosby says it was a divine inspiration that gave her the idea to organize a community hour of prayer this Saturday at all 49 Richmond public  school buildings.

Mosby and Richmond council member Cynthia Newbille have rounded up faith leaders from all over the Richmond area.  However  her event is also catching the attention  of the American Civil Liberties Union.

"The government is not in a position legally to sponsor prayer," said Claire Gastanaga, of the Richmond ACLU.

The organization is asking for more details about the event as they believe it could raise constitutional questions about the separation of church and state.

"If city council members are in their official capacity and they're using city resources, then they've really put the city in jeopardy,” said Gastanaga.

Flyers distributed for the event list Newbille and Mosby as council members and sponsors of the community prayer. Mosby’s staff person employed by the city is listed as the point of contact, and even though the event is not put on by the city, the few hundred fliers were printed in city council offices by city staffers.

“I guess you're dealing with an out of the box thinker," said Mosby when asked about the decision to print the flyers at city hall.

As a first term council member Mosby saID she's still learning the ropes and taking creative risks. She says her motives are good ones and was simply trying to get as many people to attend the event as possible.

"I don't mind being told this is how you need to tweak it, I'm OK with that," she said.

Mosby also added that if the city wants her to pay for the paper used, she is more than happy to return it.  The event is this Saturday at noon.