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RICHMOND -- Governor Terry McAuliffe vetoed a bill Friday that would protect the rights of public school students to voluntarily pray and participate in religious activities on school grounds.

Senate Bill 236 would have made it legal for students in public schools to organize prayer groups on school grounds, display religious clothing during the school day and would have given the sports teams the options of praying before games.

The governor's veto was not a surprise. Even before the bill cleared both houses of the General Assembly, administration officials said McAuliffe would reject the measure.

In a veto statement, McAuliffe says a bill like this isn't needed and it 'actually infringes on students' right to be free from coercive prayer and religious messaging at both voluntary and required school events.'

He goes on to say, 'I believe SB 236 is not necessary to ensure students' freedom of religious expression.'

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