Candidate Calls For Prayer In Schools

Melissa Bailey PhotoA man who inherited a pulpit and a barber shop from his dad is making his debut in politics with a vow to restore Christian “family values” to schools and society.

“When we expel God from our schools, dismiss him from our court and evict him from our culture, then we have problems,” said Charles Ashe III (pictured). He said if elected he would support prayer in schools.

Ashe, a Democrat from Newhallville, is one of five candidates whose names appear on the ballot in a special election this Thursday to fill an open state representative seat in the 94th General Assembly District. The district spans of parts of Hamden, New Haven’s Newhallville and Prospect Hill neighborhoods, and a slice of Yale.

Ashe, who’s 54, owns Ashe’s Barber Shop on Dixwell Avenue, which he started with his father in 1981. He inherited full ownership of the business after his father, the Rev. Charles Ashe Jr., died about 10 years ago. Ashe III also inherited his father’s role as pastor of the First Pentecostal Church of Christ on Whalley Avenue in upper Westville.

Ashe, a lifelong New Havener, framed himself as a grassroots, homegrown candidate who would bring his experience as a street minister at the barber shop, and a pastor at his church, into the state legislature.

Ashe said he would be unafraid to take a “tough stance” in support of “family values.”

“There’s nothing wrong in having someone from God’s house in the state’s house,” he said. At least two state representatives, Bruce Morris of Norwalk and Charles Stallworth of Bridgeport, are men of the cloth.

Ashe made those remarks in a recent interview at his mother’s house at 335 Shelton Ave., across the street from his barber shop. Ashe grew up in the McConaughy Terrace housing projects in West Hills. He and his wife, whom he has been with since age 16, have four biological kids and five grandkids. They have also raised foster children, the eldest of whom is now 24.

Ashe conducted the interview in his mother’s home, which he co-owns. He picked that spot because he discovered this year that his home at 407 Dixwell Ave. was cut out of the 94th District in the most recent redistricting; he said if he is elected, he would move to his mother’s house, or to the apartments over his barber shop across the street in order to establish residency in the district.

Ashe, a big, 6-foot former basketball player, spoke from a stool at his mother’s kitchen counter, which Ashe said he built by hand. He was asked if he supports Pastor Eldren Morrison’s plan to open the Booker T. Washington charter school in the fall. The school aims to serve kids from Dixwell and Newhallville.

“It’s a wonderful initiative,” Ashe replied. “Everyone deserves a choice” as to where to go to school.

Ashe said he further believes that Americans have gone too far in “expelling God” from schools, courthouses, and from “our culture.”

“The framers of this country” built the U.S.A. on “Judeo-Christian values,” he said. There is “nothing in the Constitution that supports” separation of church and state, he argued. (The First Amendment reads: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”)

Ashe said as legislator, he would seek to bring back “family values” such as “marriage, family, community, empathy, respect, love, respecting other cultures as well as your own.”

“We don’t place a high emphasis on values. We seem to have a lower standard,” he said. “If someone takes a stand on values, they’re criticized for doing it. We need to put God first, and then family and then community.”

Ashe said he would support legislation promoting prayer in schools. “I don’t see how it would hurt. I think it would help,” he said.

“I would like to have some discussion around it,” he said. If people don’t want prayer in schools, he offered, schools could establish “a moment of silence.”

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that school districts cannot require students to pray in school, nor even require a moment of silence, if the moment of silence is intended for prayer.

Ashe painted himself not just as a minister of the pulpit, but also a minister of the streets who advises and listens to young men from the neighborhood through his barber shop. He said his top priorities would be to address gun violence and to support economic development in urban neighborhoods.

On other issues, Ashe said he “wholeheartedly” supports a proposal by state Sen. Martin Looney to guarantee that cities like New Haven receive at least 50 percent in PILOT reimbursements for not-for-profit-owned properties that it can’t tax. State law calls for 77 percent reimbursement, but the state reimbursement rate has been closer to 32 percent.

He said he supports universal prekindergarten, though he believes that “the most influential classroom is still the home.” He supports the recent move to raise Connecticut’s minimum wage to $10.10.

Ashe was also asked about a proposal by Gary Holder-Winfield, who vacated the 94th District seat to become a state senator, regarding the “drug-free zones” that raise penalties for drug-dealing. Holder-Winfield has raised concerns that people in urban areas suffer disproportionately from those penalties because in dense cities, there’s almost nowhere that isn’t in one of those zones. He proposes shrinking the zones from 1,500 feet to 250 feet.

Asked about the proposal, Ashe first said he supports the bill and did not know what its impact would be. “Gary has done a great job,” including in drafting this bill, he said.

Ashe later sent a clarification by text message: “You asked a question regarding [a] drug-free zone bill. I believe I said I supported it without knowing all the specifics. After further review, I support the bill because of the density issue and can see how urban residents would be more prone to the mandatory sentencing law as opposed to other communities.”

Asked how he would address neighborhood blight in Newhallville, Ashe said the answer is economic development. He said he would create jobs by sending more money to support small minority-owned businesses.

Ashe was asked how he would serve the parts of his ward in New Haven as well as Hamden. He noted that his barber shop is just two blocks away from the Hamden town line.

“I do business constantly across those boundaries,” he said. He vowed to be accessible to people in the neighborhood.

“I’m in the community. They’re going to be able to touch me,” he said.

Ashe said he is running as an “outsider” candidate with no experience in politics and no endorsements from “special interests.”

Ashe said his inspiration for running for office comes in part from the basketball court. As a freshman at Hillhouse High School, he didn’t make the cut to play on junior varsity. He rose up to become the captain of the varsity team his senior year, leading the state in scoring, he said. In his senior year, in 1977, he averaged 24 points per game and set a school record of scoring 40 points in three quarters—without a 3-point line, he said. He went on to play basketball on a DII team at Fayetteville State University in North Carolina.

“I bring that same mentality” as a hard-driving point guard “in working for the working class,” Ashe said. “I’ll go in being a freshman, being green, but hopefully one day I’ll come off the bench, be a star.”

Previous coverage of this campaign:
Map Discovery Throws Convention Into Disarray
A Candidate Un-Draws The Line
Candidate Encounters 2 Worlds On Huntington St.
She Has A Vote Ready

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posted by: Theodora on April 22, 2014  9:04am

Pushing his religious ideology and trying to indoctrinate students should disqualify this guy from office.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on April 22, 2014  9:08am

Let us take a look at what he is saying.

The framers of this country” built the U.S.A. on “Judeo-Christian values,” he said. There is “nothing in the Constitution that supports” separation of church and state, he argued. (The First Amendment reads: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”)

Reasons America Is Not And Has Never Been a Christian Nation
The myth that America is a “Christian nation” is not only untrue, but promotes the pernicious idea that non-Christians are second-class citizens.If a Christian nation had been the intent of the founders, they would have put that in the Constitution, front and center. Yet the text of the Constitution contains no references to God, Jesus Christ, or Christianity. That document does not state that our country is an officially Christian nation.

Not only does the Constitution not give recognition or acknowledgment to Christianity, but it also includes Article VI, which bans “religious tests” for public office. Guaranteeing non-Christians the right to hold federal office seems antipodal to an officially Christian nation.In addition, the First Amendment bars all laws “respecting an establishment of religion” and protects “the free exercise thereof. Nothing here indicates that the latter provision applies only to Christian faiths.When it comes to determining the manner of the U.S. government, only the Constitution matters. The Constitution does not declare that the United States is a Christian nation. This fact alone is fatal to the cause of Christian nation advocates.

Part one.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on April 22, 2014  9:30am

part two.

Mr.Ashe needs to do his homework.He needs to read US Treaty with Tripoli, 1796-1797.

Article 11.

As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion, — as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen, — and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.

He said his top priorities would be to address gun violence and to support economic development in urban neighborhoods.

He should start by asking why with all of these Black churhes despite billions of dollars taken from collection plates— much of it from the poor we see few homes for the elderly, few recreation centers, little to no church-financed housing development and few viable church-operated businesses that might employ members or generate some tangible measure of return on years of investment.Ask why we are puting the money in white banks and not Black credit unions.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on April 22, 2014  9:42am

Part Three.

Last you need to get god and pray back into the church.From what I see,Mercedes-buying preachers who live in suburban meadows far from the inner-city ghettos they pastor, where they bid parishioners to sacrifice in the name of God.Preachers and there wives and co-pastor,geting a per diem and driving luxury vehicles, their modest salaries boosted by tithes and offerings from poor folks in a struggling congregation of families, a number of them headed by single women.The countless annual meetings and church assemblies, camouflaged as worship services, as little more than fund-raisers and quasi-fashion shows with a dose of spirituality.The territorialism of churches, vying for control and membership.

In my talk with black ministers, I inform them that you can’t preach the glories of Heaven, while ignoring social conditions in your own community that causes men to live an earthly hell——-DR. KING (from his interview with Alex Haley)

posted by: Brewski on April 22, 2014  9:43am

His position on prayer in schools is pretty vague. Are there any rules or laws preventing kids from praying in schools? I don’t mind if some kids want to pray in school—maybe a prayer group before or after school hours. However, I have my own ideas about prayer and religion, so I would not be comfortable with someone trying to influence them in a public school. I think this would be intrusive, inappropriate, and probably unconstitutional.

Also, “family values” can be defined in any number of ways. He seems to have a good head on his shoulders on the other topics mentioned, especially the mandatory sentencing law.

posted by: Elizabethaiken on April 22, 2014  9:45am

I am stunned that a candidate who wants to be elected to the State Legislature believes “The framers of this country” built the U.S.A. on “Judeo-Christian values,” he said. There is “nothing in the Constitution that supports” separation of church and state, he argued. I believe he should continue to advocate for his community on a local level, but not enter the arena of legislation when he does not grasp basic constitutional issues. There is a wonderful candidate, Robyn Porter from New Haven, running for this office who does understand and would do a great job of representing the 94th District.

posted by: Gretchen Pritchard on April 22, 2014  10:02am

Interesting the way this article follows closely on the one last week about the amazing positive effects of meditation in the schools.

A period of silence in which students are taught to center themselves using whatever “mantra” or short phrase they themselves choose, would seem to meet both Ashe’s standards and a constitutional standard, though it probably is not what he really wants, which is indoctrination into specific religious values.  And, real-life experience suggests that it actually works.

posted by: Brutus2011 on April 22, 2014  10:02am

The framer’s also built this country on the labor and energy of slaves. (consider that I would be a slave and my children might likely be slaves if not for Amendment 13)

And that is not even the worst part of it.

The worst part is that the founding elite allowed skin color to be the wedge to keep the less economically advantaged among us divided.

Now we have a ongoing society that is apartheid in spirit and action although some would argue progress—the gift that keeps on giving.

I don’t believe a Judeo-Christian God approves.

Do you?

posted by: robn on April 22, 2014  10:09am

Doesn’t understand Constitutional basics. OOPS!

Doesn’t have residency in the district. DOUBLE OOPS AND A DQ!

posted by: middle on April 22, 2014  10:13am

Mr. Ashe says his “family values” include “respecting other cultures as well your own.” He also supports bringing prayer into schools.

Does he really want all cultures to be able to pray in school? How will he react when the Satanists show up? What about the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster?

Does he want to make the rules about which brand of religion is allowed to perform prayers?

posted by: Noteworthy on April 22, 2014  10:27am

The problem isn’t prayer in the schools - it’s lack of prayer, discipline and family values at home.

posted by: robn on April 22, 2014  10:56am

I would love for there to be noodly good Pastafarians in schools but wait a minute… what’s that? (buzzer sound) Mr. Ashe doesn’t have residency and is therefore DQ’d from running.

scroll down…must be a resident of the district for one year prior to the election.

posted by: Shaggybob on April 22, 2014  11:17am

Separation of Church and State.

Can you say Constitution ?

Just because Congress doesn’t follow it doesn’t mean the citizens should follow suit.

posted by: JohnTulin on April 22, 2014  11:28am

So if we pray things will get better - it’s that easy?!?  What have we been waiting for?

posted by: jim1 on April 22, 2014  12:08pm

The law said no.  That is a no.. You have so many people of color would want there own prayer.  Why don’t you get your 15mins.of air time with something that will help. Like homeless, gun problems, speeding in neighborhoods.

posted by: darnell on April 22, 2014  12:21pm

Robn, what’s the deal with the link to the Alabama Secretary of the State Elections office?

posted by: David Backeberg on April 22, 2014  12:32pm

Doesn’t the problem of residency automatically disqualify people from running for the office, or can anybody run for a district they don’t live in?

For anybody as confused as the subject of this article about the legality of school prayer, take a look:

posted by: robn on April 22, 2014  1:25pm


OOOPS! wrong SOS; however I would venture a guess that CT is as progressive as ‘bama and only allows one to run with residency.

posted by: Jones Gore on April 22, 2014  2:09pm

Although I agree with his sensitivity of the issue of prayer, prayer is something that needs to be established in the home first. The schools are not the foundation of society but homes.  Worship of God being absesent in the home is where we get the problems that plague the greater society.

posted by: robn on April 22, 2014  6:14pm

You know I was kindof making a joke about something I thought was serious but I’ve scoured the CT General Statutes today and can’t find anything indicating a residency requirement someone running for state representative. (although the following links suggests there is such a requirement.)

I found residency requirements pertaining to voters, petition gatherers, Congressional Reps and Senators and even university students but not for the state legislature.

posted by: Brian L. Jenkins on April 22, 2014  6:34pm

Now wait a minute, Charlie Ashe is a good friend of mine in whom we’ve both attended school together.  I applaud his position regarding prayer.  In fact, I subscribe to his way of thinking almost to the letter.

1. He said his top priorities would be to “address gun violence and to support economic development in urban neighborhoods.” It’s gun violence that’s choking the lifeblood out of these neighborhoods in the Newhallville and yet, many that are commenting have chosen negatively to focus on prayer.

2. He’s been accused of not living in the district, although he’s the co-owner of a house, in the district.  Read the law people.

3. I’m just impressed with the fact that Charlie decided to run with hopes of representing his community in a positive way.  This man has seen a lot of negative behaviors on the streets outside of his barber shop and his quest is to show these young men how one can rise from the Projects to the State House.

posted by: Marion on April 22, 2014  7:10pm

There’s a difference between requiring students to pray (establishment of religion)and allowing them to pray (free exercise of religion. If news reports of public schools accommodating Muslim students’ need to pray at certain times during the day is true, then it is not the case that “no prayer” at all can be said on school property.  That said, this man has enough good things in his background and good ideas to offer as a candidate.  But he should lose the and divisive talk about the school prayer. And I happen to agree this country was founded and it progressive on Judeo Christian principles.  The ten commandments, for example, was a template for many of our laws.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on April 22, 2014  9:55pm

posted by: SwampfoxII on April 22, 2014 7:10pm

And I happen to agree this country was founded and it progressive on Judeo Christian principles.  The ten commandments, for example, was a template for many of our laws.

The basis of American Law is the U.S. Constitution, not the Ten Commandments or any religious teaching.If the ten commandments, for example, was a template for many of our laws.They why did those in power violate Thou shalt not kill and Thou shalt not steal.When they murder and stole the land from the people here who already had a government and laws in place.

Matthew 6:6

When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.

My bad.Did you know that eth The Ten Commandments,were taken from the Egyptian Principles of Ma’at written at least 2000 years earlier.

posted by: ElmCityComeUp on April 22, 2014  11:42pm

Wow. Stupid. Not even worth my time.

posted by: filmjerry on April 23, 2014  11:00am

That any candidate in 2014 would still be calling for reinstituting prayer in public schools is truly distressing.  This gentleman needs to acquaint himself with the teachings of Roger Williams, the founder of Rhode Island, and one of the strongest advocates of separation of government and religion, while still being a devoutly religious person.  Perhaps the best synoptic look at the non-religious influences on the founding of the country is Susan Jacoby’s FREEETHINKERS.  Her book and Kramnick and Moore’s THE GODLESS CONSTITUTION should be required reading for all candidates for public office.

posted by: robn on April 23, 2014  1:37pm

OK I think I found it.(that’s IF a General Assembly member is considered a “municipal officer” and IF “municipality” is synonymous with “district”.)

CTGeneral Statutes
Sec. 9-186.
Electoral status of municipal officers and justices of the peace.

Each elected municipal officer and each justice of the peace shall be an elector of the municipality in which he is elected, or in the case of a justice of the peace, nominated or appointed to office and, if for any reason he ceases to be an elector thereof, he shall thereupon cease to hold office therein and such office shall be deemed vacant.

posted by: darnell on April 23, 2014  4:09pm

Robn, sorry, wrong again. In some circumstances a general assembly member may be considered a municipal officer, not in this situation, since the district crosses town lines it is most certainly not considered so. If you read election laws carefully, you will see that inter-town and intra-town legislative elections have slightly different rules, and are defined differently in the state statutes.

Keep trying though, you’ll eventually find it.

posted by: robn on April 23, 2014  6:39pm


If it exists would you consider sharing?

posted by: William Kurtz on April 24, 2014  1:34pm

I believe this is what you’re all looking for:

SEC. 4. The house of representatives shall consist of not less than one hundred
twenty-five and not more than two hundred twenty-five members, each of whom
shall be an elector residing in the assembly district from which he is elected
. Each
assembly district shall be contiguous as to territory and shall elect no more than one
representative. For the purpose of forming assembly districts no town shall be
divided except for the purpose of forming assembly districts wholly within the town.

posted by: robn on April 24, 2014  2:02pm


Thanks WK! So can someone tell me why the SOS is allowing a guy who doesn’t live in this district to run?


Home ownership doesn’t make you an elector in a district; you have to live there and vote there.\

[Editor: Candidates are allowed to move into a district after winning an election there.]