Superintendent Fires Back at Freedom From Religion Foundation

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CULLMAN, Ala. (WHNT)-- Cullman County Schools Superintendent Billy Coleman says he is not afraid of the stand he has taken against the Freedom From Religion Foundation.

"You're not going to hear us attack that organization," Coleman said of FFRF. "I will let the people decide whether or not we are being attacked. We are taking a stand and we are not afraid."

In July, the Wisconsin-based organization sent a letter to the superintendent's office about a prayer caravan planned for this coming Saturday. Those who wish to pray for the upcoming school year will meet at every school in the county at different times throughout the day.

Coleman says FFRF has gotten some bad information.

"The short explanation is that the prayer caravan is a private event that I sponsored in my private capacity as a concerned citizen and a resident of Cullman County."

The letter from FFRF wanted information about the event taken down from the school system's website and Facebook page. Coleman says the system complied while researching whether they had broken the law.

Coleman says the system's website has been used to promote other private events such as Relay for Life. He says his legal advice was that the caravan was no different.

He says he feels the organization is also coming after his own constitutional rights.

"According to the legal advice that I have received, the fact that I am the main sponsor is not an issue. Public officials do not surrender their constitutional rights upon taking public office."

Coleman held the news conference away from school grounds and says he took a vacation day so that he couldn't be accused of spending work hours addressing the caravan issue.

The superintendent says FFRF has told him they plan to have observers at the caravan, which he welcomes.

"I think that's a great idea to have someone from their organization to see for themselves what the prayer caravan is all about. Private citizens exercising their constitutional rights. And it is not being run by school officials acting in their official capacity."

WHNT News 19 sent an email late Tuesday afternoon to FFRF seeking comment on Coleman's news conference, but at the time of this writing had not received a response.

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