Allegedly a five-year-old kindergarten student was told she could not pray over her lunch because “it is not good” to do. Gabriella Perez said she was prevented from praying by a lunch monitor at a school in Oviedo, Florida. Carillon Elementary School has refuted this allegation and insists that this little girl, just as every other child, does have the right to pray if she chooses.
The little girl told her parents the lunch teacher said to her, “You are not allowed to pray.” Gabriella responded by saying, “It is good to pray.” She tried to pray again but was prevented because she got caught with her head bowed and was told to stop. Gabriella said the lunch teacher then told her, “It is not good.”
Gabriella’s parents posted a video on YouTube in order to bring awareness to the situation. Marcos and Kathy both felt it was important enough for people to hear. They said although the school is denying this action they fully believe their daughter. Praying over any meal is the Perez family’s tradition and she should not be denied to follow it wherever she is. The school, however, says they cannot find anyone to validate Gabriella’s claim.
During a news conference Kathy, the child’s mother, said her daughter wanted to pray but stopped when she was told because Gabriella also wanted to follow the rules. Kathy said she told her daughter she did the right thing but said she has no doubt that Gabriella is telling the truth.
Marcos said he and his wife were shocked when Gabriella told them what happened in school concerning the lunch monitor, who she referred to as a lunch teacher, told her to stop praying. He said she is only five-years-old and was praying silently to God for her food. Marcos said this is one of the biblical values that he and his wife are working to instill in their children. He went on to say although they told her how proud they were of her obeying the rules they wanted to make sure she understood that prayer is good and that no one can tell her not to pray.
It is very common for Christians to pray before meals which they consider a simple act of giving God thanks for the food they are about to consume. There is no standard length for this prayer; it can be as short as “thank you.” Christians believe they are following the example of Christ who gave thanks on several occasions as revealed in the bible.
One example of giving thanks is in Matthew when Jesus miraculously fed thousands of followers with a young lad’s lunch which included a few fish and loaves of bread. Another example was at the Last Supper when Jesus broke bread and gave thanks. Christians believe thanking God for their daily bread is another way to acknowledge all things come from him.
Analynn Jones, the school principal, said that she held a meeting with the staff to remind them that Carillon Elementary has no policy that prevents prayer in the school. A statement was also issued to the press from the school stating, “We are dealing with very young children so there is a greater opportunity for a miscommunication of information to occur.”
Marcos said as citizens of the United States of America, which is supposed to be the land of the free, their religious freedoms and traditional values should not be under assault. He and Kathy have both decided that homeschooling will be their educational method of choice moving forward.
Allegedly five-year-old Gabriella Perez was told by a lunch monitor she could not pray over her lunch because it is not good. This incident occurred at Carillon Elementary School in Oviedo, Florida. The school has denied this claim and issued a statement saying all children have the right to pray.
By: Cherese Jackson (Virginia)