ATHENS, Ga. – A high school principal apologized Monday for reading a poem called "The New School Prayer" over the school's intercom, which brought complaints from some parents who said it violated the principle of separation of church and state (search).
Tommy Craft said he wanted not to promote religion but to provoke thought and discussion among students about the changing political climate in school when he read the poem the Tuesday before the Thanksgiving break.
"I apologized to them today in another statement," Craft said. "I said that there was no attempt to individualize or to bring ridicule on any particular person with the poem."
The poem, which has circulated on the Internet since at least 1992, is written in the rhyming style of the children's prayer that begins "Now I lay me down to sleep." It refers to prayer not being allowed in school, although students can "dress like freaks, and pierce our noses, tongues and cheeks" or "elect a pregnant Senior Queen."
The poem mentions the ability to get condoms and birth control (search), as well as study "witchcraft, vampires and totem poles."
"But the Ten Commandments (search) are not allowed, no word of God must reach this crowd," the poem says.
Some parents have complained to both Craft and the Clarke County School Superintendent Lewis Holloway.
"Basically, I found the poem offensive, but even if I didn't, I still would believe it crossed the line between church and state," said Ginger Smith, whose daughter is a junior at Cedar Shoals High School.
Holloway said the district had received "several calls" from people who were upset about the poem. He would not discuss any action taken against Craft.