Students Kicked Out of Mall after Praying

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A group of rival high school football players found common ground at a Virginia mall recently, but were kicked out after they joined hands to pray.

Kimberly King's 15-year-old son, Malcolm Davis, was one of the players asked to leave by a security guard. He called his mom shortly after the Aug. 29 confrontation.

"He called me and he said, 'Mom we got put out of the mall for praying,'" King recalled. "I thought he said playing and then he corrected me and he said, 'No, praying.'" 

According to Davis, he and his friends were near the food court at River Ridge Mall in Lynchburg, Va., when they were approached by a group of students.

"They started asking them questions about their salvation and their relationship with God," King said. 

Then, football players from the cross-town rival high school joined the conversation. King said they asked if everyone could pray for them to have a good season.

According to Davis, the players usually butt heads on the field, but joined together and prayed. 

"He says, 'Mom, we started to pray, the whole group of us, and as I said amen, and was lifting my head, I noticed mall security approaching us, saying we had to leave the mall,'" the mother explained, adding that her son said they were followed out by security to make sure they were leaving. 

King questioned mall security about what happened and they told her large groups who congregate in the mall are asked to disperse. If they don't they're asked to leave. 

"So of course I followed up with my son and (asked if they were ever approached) saying 'Please disperse. What are you doing?'" she said. "And he said, 'No, we were never given a chance to say what we were doing. They just walked up and told us to leave after we finished praying.'" 

King said she understands that mall security has a job to do, but didn't see why asking a group of praying football players to leave a mall was necessary.

"It's certainly unfair that these boys were punished or treated that way when they were doing something so positive," she said.

The mall's regional manager says the mall has a strict no congregating policy to keep shoppers safe.

She says security asked the boys to sit down and disperse, and when the did not, they were asked to leave.

Mall officials say they'll work with any group who needs space to pray.

*Originally aired Sept. 4, 2009

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