In a letter dated Oct. 26, 2012, from the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation, the group wrote: "It is inappropriate and unconstitutional for Conway Public Schools to offer Christian ministers unique access to befriend and proselytize students during the school day on school property."
The Log Cabin Democrat newspaper reported: "About 16 representatives from area churches and religious organizations met in a closed-door meeting between them and superintendent Greg Murry on Thursday morning."
Murry did not respond to KARK's email questions. Among them: Why did they meet behind closed doors?
Instead, Murry sent the station a news release from the Texas-based Liberty Institute, a nonprofit group that defends schools and faith groups when those entities are embroiled in lawsuits over the separation of church and state.
Murry is quoted in the news release as stating: "The District respects the religious liberty of all students and citizens and we will work diligently to follow the Constitution and take appropriate steps necessary to investigate this issue further and follow the law."
The Liberty Institute is expected to make its report and recommendation to the school district on or before Feb. 12, according to the news release.
The school district has since suspended its policy of allowing pastors to visit schools.
This latest conflict marks the fifth time in seven months the church and state debate has made news in Arkansas.
The other conflicts include:
The ACLU of Arkansas earlier this week announced it opposes a proposed $300,000 contract between the cities of Little Rock and North Little Rock with the Union Rescue Mission. The Mission wants to operate a taxpayer funded resource center for homeless people. At issue: The Mission wants to hire only practicing evangelical Christians to manage the resource center's programs. The ACLU chapter said the Mission's hiring policy amounts to discrimination and is unconstitutional.
A state law dating back to the 19th Century that forbids atheists from holding political office or testifying in court drew the attention of the Freedom From Religion Foundation in 2012.
In December 2012, a Little Rock parent complained about Terry Elementary School's arrangement to bus kids during the school day to a church production of "A Charlie Brown Christmas." The stage production, put on by Agape Church, had religious themes. The parent who raised issue was concerned her daughter could be subject to ridicule if she opted not to attend the production. The church instead canceled its Friday show and added a show on the weekend.
In the Summer of 2012, the Governor's Mansion denied a Methodist minister's request to hold a ceremony honoring retiring military chaplains. Administrators with the Governor's Mansion stated they are routinely overwhelmed by requests to use the facility and did not want to give the appearance of favoring any particular denomination.