12-year-old Hixson girl awarded $1,000 for speaking out against commission prayer

photo Maia Disbrow

A 12-year-old Hixson resident has received $1,000 for a speech she made addressing the dispute over prayer at Hamilton County Commission meetings.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation awarded Maia Disbrow for an address she made at the July 18 Hamilton County Commission meeting asking commissioners to remove the prayer before meetings, according to a news release.

Disbrow decided to address commissioners after she saw the board give a special award to a preacher.

"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," Disbrow said in the release. "When I realized that the county commissioners were actually behaving like a bunch of fifth-grade bullies, I sat down and started writing my address to them."

In June, Tommy Coleman and Brandon Jones sued county commissioners, arguing prayers violate the establishment clause of the First Amendment.