Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Judge Violates First Amendment - Bans Student Prayer

A federal judge in South Texas has ordered all students at graduation ceremonies to not use words such as "amen" or "God bless you." The school had previously planned a "prayer-free" commencement event, but atheists sued fearing students might pray of their own volition.

For background, read Lawsuit to End Prayer at Texas Graduation

UPDATE 6/3/11: Prayer restored - federal appeals court overrules activist judge

UPDATE 6/2/11: School appeals; Texas attorney general says ruling “is contrary to the Constitution (and) contrary to law.”

-- From "Prayers removed from Texas public school graduation" by Jim Forsyth, Reuters 5/31/11

District Judge Fred Biery ruled that using those words would make it sound like Castroville's Medina Valley High School is "sponsoring a religion."

[Chris Martinez, assistant superintendent, said] "Our entire school system is set up on following the rules, and we are going to do that."

"But this is one parent's opinion of what we are doing. We don't believe we have done anything wrong."

Christa and Danny Schultz, who describe themselves as agnostics, sued the district, claiming that their son might not participate in the graduation set for Saturday if he were forced to participate in religious activities.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Prayer outlawed from local high school graduation ceremony" by, Melissa Garcia, WOAI TV-4 San Antonio 5/31/11

. . . district officials say a state statute allows students to express their faith freely. And they've been doing so at graduation ceremonies and elsewhere for 50 years.

"We do not believe, as a school district, that we have done anything wrong," commented Chris Martinez, Assistant Superintendent for Medina Valley Independent School District. "Traditionally, our students have spoken religious language. They have used their own personal testimonies... Nonetheless, it is not under our guidance. We don't direct them or script them in what to say. It is their freedom of expression."

Per the judge's ruling, student speakers at Saturday's graduation at Medina Valley High School will still be able to speak about their personal faith. They will not, however, be allowed to ask the crowd to stand and bow their heads in prayer, or use phrases like "Amen" or "God bless you."

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

UPDATE 7/2/11: Valedictorian Angela Hildenbrand interview on Fox News: