Prayers removed from US public school graduation

2011-06-01 13:40

San Antonio – A US judge has ruled that a high school graduation in the state of Texas may not include an opening and closing prayer, or the words “invocation” or “benediction”.

US District Judge Fred Biery ruled that using those words would make it sound like Castroville’s Medina Valley High School, in a suburb of San Antonio, is “sponsoring a religion”.

“We think that the district has been flouting the law for decades.

We’re glad that the court is going to put an end to it,” said Ayesha Kahn, an attorney for Americans United for Church and State, which filed the lawsuit.

No appeal of the ruling is planned, and the invocation and benediction will no longer take place, said Chris Martinez, assistant superintendent of the Medina Valley Independent School District.

“Our entire school system is set up on following the rules, and we are going to do that,” Martinez said.

“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.

Biery ruled that students who are speaking at the graduation can still talk about their faith, or cite a belief in God as the reason for their success, but they may not say “amen” or “God bless you,” or have the audience rise and bow their heads.

There are 238 students who are set to graduate.


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