Friday, June 3, 2011


(Fox News Radio) A federal judge has ordered a Texas school district to prohibit public prayer at a high school graduation ceremony. Chief U.S. District Judge Fred Biery’s order against the Medina Valley Independent School District also forbids students from using specific religious words including “prayer” and “amen.”

The ruling was in response to a lawsuit filed by Christa and Danny Schultz. Their son is among those scheduled to participate in Saturday’s graduation ceremony. The judge declared that the Schultz family and their son would “suffer irreparable harm” if anyone prayed at the ceremony."Such being the impressions under which I have, in obedience to the public summons, repaired to the present station, it would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official act my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the universe, who presides in the councils of nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that His benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the people of the United States a Government instituted by themselves for these essential purposes, and may enable every instrument employed in its administration to execute with success the functions allotted to his charge.

In tendering this homage to the Great Author of every public and private good, I assure myself that it expresses your sentiments not less than my own, nor those of my fellow-citizens at large less than either. No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than those of the United States.

Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency; and in the important revolution just accomplished in the system of their united government the tranquil deliberations and voluntary consent of so many distinct communities from which the event has resulted can not be compared with the means by which most governments have been established without some return of pious gratitude, along with an humble anticipation of the future blessings which the past seem to presage.

These reflections, arising out of the present crisis, have forced themselves too strongly on my mind to be suppressed. You will join with me, I trust, in thinking that there are none under the influence of which the proceedings of a new and free government can more auspiciously commence." - President George Washington, First Inaugural Address
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said the school district is in the process of appealing the ruling and his office has agreed to file a brief in their support. “Part of this goes to the very heart of the unraveling of moral values in this country,” Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott told Fox News Radio, saying the judge wanted to turn school administrators into “speech police.” “I’ve never seen such a restriction on speech issued by a court or the government,” Abbott told Fox News Radio.

“It seems like a trampling of the First Amendment rather than protecting the First Amendment.” Judge Biery’s ruling banned students and other speakers from using and religious language in their speeches. Among the banned words or phrases are: “join in prayer,” “bow their heads,” “amen,” and “prayer.”

He also ordered the school district to remove the terms “invocation” and “benediction” from the graduation program. “These terms shall be replaced with ‘opening remarks’ and ‘closing remarks’,” the judge’s order stated. His ruling also prohibits anyone from saying, “in [a deity’s name] we pray.”

Should a student violate the order, school district officials could find themselves in legal trouble. Judge Biery ordered that his ruling be “enforced by incarceration or other sanctions for contempt of Court if not obeyed by District official (sic) and their agents.” The Texas attorney general called the ruling unconstitutional and a blatant attack from those who do not believe in God.

“Part of this goes to the very heart of the unraveling of moral values in this country today,” Abbott said, outraged over “attempts by atheists and agnostics to use courts to eliminate from the public landscape any and all references to God whatsoever.” “This is the challenge we are dealing with here,” he said. “(It’s) an ongoing attempt to purge God from the public setting while at the same time demanding from the courts an increased yielding to all things atheist and agnostic.”

Ayesha N. Khan, an attorney representing the student and his parents, told KABB-TV she was delighted in the judge’s decision. “It caused him a great deal of anxiety,” she said, referring to her teenage client. “He has gone to meet with the principal to try and talk in a civilized way about long-standing problems and the school district has continued to thumb its nose.”

The judge did grant students permission to make the sign of the cross, wear religious garb, or kneel to face Mecca. But that’s not good enough for some students at the high school. “It’s just a big surprise that one kid can come in and change what’s been a tradition since Medina Valley started,” student Abigail Russell told KABB-TV.

Fellow student Alicia Jade Geurin agreed. “At graduation, I would love to be able to speak from my heart,” she told the television station. “But in this situation I feel my freedom of speech and my First Amendment is being infringed upon if I can’t say what I feel.”

But the Rev. Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, hailed the judge’s decision. “This is a high school graduation,” he told Fox News Radio.

“It is not a church service.” Lynn was critical of the attorney general’s allegation that the ruling was an attempt to purge Christianity from the public square. “Any attorney general worth his salt would know that’s the issue and that this is not about promoting atheism,” he said. “That’s ludicrous.”

1 comment:

Kathryn said...

Praise God the ban was just lifted in federal appeals court:

Americans for the Separation of Church and State are trampling our First Amendment Rights. I don't think they even understand the First Amendment at all.