March 8, 2008

Texas Graduation Prayer Lawsuit Settled

According to a statement issued by Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a lawsuit over prayer at Texas public school graduation ceremonies has been settled. The degree to which this settlement will influence other public school districts is uncertain, although it does involve a District Court ruling. In a nutshell, the settlement prevents a Texas school district from implementing a policy whereby students could vote on whether to permit prayer at graduation ceremonies.

The settlement, between Americans United and the Round Rock Independent School District, says that the district may not leave the decision of whether to include prayer at graduation ceremonies up to a student vote.

According to the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United,
Religious liberty is too precious to subject to a majority-rules vote. This lawsuit was designed to prevent school officials from meddling in what ought to be personal religious matters.
This case is an example of why I continue to support Americans United through membership dues. All too often, their intervention is needed to preserve the separation of church and state.

I have no problem with people praying in their homes or churches. I don't even mind students praying silently on their own in public school (as they can do under current law). However, organized and vocal prayer has no place in our public schools.

As the judge in this case noted, the Supreme Court has been clear that public schools may not impose prayers on students, even if a majority of students votes to allow such prayers.

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