School trustees and administrators who oversee two south Orange County community colleges are being sued by a group of faculty and students who contend they routinely lead official prayers at school ceremonies.
-- From "Prayers land college district in legal dispute" by Lindsey Baguio, The Orange County Register 11/23/09
The federal lawsuit was filed on Thursday by Americans United for Separation of Church and State on behalf of several faculty members and students [against] Saddleback College professors [and more] . . .
They are seeking for a court ruling that finds the district in violation of the First Amendment and an order that prohibits school prayers at events.
One of the incidents outlined in the lawsuit cites a faculty training session in August 2009 in which administrators showed a video titled "God Bless the USA." The video shows religious images and ended with two pictures of military personnel carrying a flag-draped coffin. Superimposed on the image was the quote "Only two defining forces have ever offered to die for you. Jesus Christ and the American G.I. One died for your soul, the other died for your freedom."
[Karla] Westphal, a math professor at Saddleback College, is the lead plaintiff in the case.
Westphal, who has been a professor at Saddleback College since 2001, said the frequency of public prayers at school events began in 2004 when a trustee led a prayer at the beginning of a scholarship ceremony.
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