Maia Disbrow, a 12-year-old from Hamilton County, Tennessee, is $1,000 richer after publicly protesting against government prayer. The young girl received the honor from the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), an atheist group based in Madison, Wisconsin, after she delivered a speech at a Hamilton County Commissioners meeting.
In her July 18 address, Disbrow encouraged local leaders to drop prayers at their meetings. According to a release put out by the FFRF, she got involved in the anti-faith activism after she saw her father complain about the prayers at an earlier meeting. According to the organization, the young girl decided on her own that she wanted to speak out against what she views as a violation of the separation of church and state.
“I realized that there were some things I’d like to say to them. It took me a while to decide because even though I go to a middle school for the arts that is supposed to accept everyone, I was worried,” Disbrow said. “During elementary school, I was bullied about my beliefs and whenever the subject of my religion, or lack thereof, came up, my social status dropped for a few days.”
The young girl went on to claim that the local politicians are acting “like a bunch of fifth-grade bullies.” So, she penned and delivered the speech that can be viewed, below:
“The prayer was very rude to me,” she said of the commissioners’ prayers at government meetings. “It is not fair for you to pray openly to your God without praying to all the others as well.”
Here’s a full transcript of her testimony:
Good morning. My name is Maia Disbrow, and I am twelve years old. I am a perfectly normal young adult, although some of my friends would beg to differ.
I was present at the meeting at which my dad spoke. The prayer was very rude to me and some of my closest friends, not to mention parts of my family.
My dad did not put me up to this. I came because I care about this and things like it. All through elementary school, I was teased and ridiculed by people who I thought were my friends. Whenever the subject of me being a freethinker came up, I was singled out. By my friends. You are doing the same thing that they did to me at every meeting you have. Singling me out. Singling out every single person in Hamilton County who is not Christian.
It is not fair for you to pray openly to your God without praying to all the others as well. I believe a moment of silence would accommodate all beliefs, not just one. And after speaking today, I hope I have some friends left at school next year.
Prayer has become an issue of significance in Hamilton County, with residents Tommy Coleman and Brandon Jones (a secular humanist and an atheist) filing a July 3 federal lawsuit over invocations uttered before board meetings.
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