Angela Kilgore, a resident of Virginia, was initially denied the right to pray at a Suffolk Public Schools Board meeting but eventually succeeded in doing so after legal intervention.
In August, during her public comment time, Kilgore expressed her desire to pray for Suffolk Public Schools and its board members. However, Board Chair Tyron Riddick denied her request, stating, “I apologize, we can’t do that.” Kilgore questioned the denial, asking, “Why can’t we? I like to pray for our students in our school.”
A video of the meeting captured the tension as Kilgore invited attendees to join her in prayer after the meeting. Instead, the crowd chose to recite the Lord’s Prayer, prompting Riddick to order security officers to clear the room.
Following the incident, the Founding Freedoms Law Center (FFLC) and First Liberty Institute sent a letter to the Suffolk Public Schools Board, urging them to update their public comment policies to safeguard the right of religious citizens to express their views without fear of censorship.
The initial letter went unanswered, but a second letter from FFLC insisted that the board allow Kilgore to pray. Eventually, after legal discussions, the board agreed to permit Kilgore to pray during her public comment time.
The breakthrough came at the November 9 meeting when Kilgore was finally allowed to offer her prayer. During her address, Kilgore shared past instances where she felt humiliated or was escorted out of meetings for expressing her views.
“In August, I was led by the Holy Spirit to pray for our children, schools, and this board. The chair shut me down, but God moved,” Kilgore explained.
She utilized the rest of her time to pray for wisdom for board members and to protect parental rights. Kilgore’s prayer touched on various aspects, including seeking guidance for shaping laws, mercy for the nation, and courage for leaders in making just decisions amid increasing polarization.
Victoria Cobb, president of The Family Foundation and FFLC, hailed the district’s change of heart as a victory for religious freedom. She emphasized that discriminating against Kilgore’s religious speech was wrong, stating, “The government doesn’t get to disfavor or disallow religious speech over non-religious speech.”
Kilgore expressed her satisfaction, stating, “I’m glad they got the message and that I had the opportunity to pray. In my comments, I shared, ‘You were wrong by shutting me down. You know it. I know it, and now everyone will know it.'”
She highlighted the importance of free speech, including prayer, stating, “I decided that I could not stay silent and just go away because the right of free speech, including prayer, is simply too important.”