Tennessee school staff accidentally broadcast prayer meeting

October 22, 2022 GMT

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) — Employees of Chattanooga’s Bess T. Shepherd Elementary School blasted a prayer meeting over the school’s exterior loudspeaker during the night, although district officials said it was an accident.

An unidentified neighbor who could hear the praying from inside his or her home Monday night posted a video on the Reddit website that recorded about two minutes of a speaker praying over the intercom, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reported.

“This went on for 45 minutes,” the video caption said.

The video included a woman’s voice repeatedly saying, “We need you in this school, God. We need you in every school, God.”

She spoke of casting the things of hell “back to the abyss” and said, “You cannot rule in this school. You cannot rule in the hearts and minds of the children.”

The speaker also prayed over staff members.

District officials said the prayer meeting occurred about 6 p.m. Monday, although they were not aware of it until Thursday morning.

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“There were staff members inside the building praying who were unaware the external intercom system was enabled,” district spokesperson Steve Doremus said in an email. “As soon as they were made aware, the intercoms were turned off.”

No students were present and the staff members had gathered voluntarily, Doremus said.

“While the intercom being on was unfortunate, nothing prevents adults from gathering in this way,” he said.