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Updated Aug 9, 2013 - 11:15 am

Arizona group to help NH mom fight to pray near school

CONCORD, N.H. -- The issue of school prayer is being tested in New Hampshire and an Arizona group has jumped into the fray to help a mother who had been told she can no longer pray on the steps of her children's high school.

For two years, Lizarda Urena of Concord was praying near Concord High School for the protection of the students. In February, she moved to the school's steps to pray every day after bullets were found in a school toilet.

Last month, after the school district heard questions and complaints, including one from the Madison, Wis.-based Freedom From Religion Foundation, the principal told her she could no longer pray on school grounds.

The Concord Monitor reported the Alliance Defending Freedom, a Scottsdale, Ariz.-based conservative Christian group that advocates for religious rights, is providing legal services to Urena.

Matthew Sharp, the Arizona group's general counsel, said Urena's speech is protected under the First Amendment. He said the foundation's complaint that the prayers violate separation of church and state is "blatantly false."

John Teague, the school district's attorney, said the decision to ask Urena to stop wasn't driven by the foundation's complaint. He said the school had already received inquiries from the community and had decided the action would no longer be allowed. ___

Information from: Concord Monitor, http://www.cmonitor.com

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