Appeals court allows prayer at Texas high school’s graduation

prayer at Texas graduation schoolIn a cry for religious freedom and sentiments, Gov. Rick Perry and state Attorney General Greg Abbott supported an emergency appeal filed by the Medina Valley Independent School District against the ban imposed by U.S. District Court Judge Fred Biery, on prayer at their graduation ceremony. The original law suit by an agnostic family whose son attends Medina Valley High School in Castroville. They were of the opinion that their son would suffer “irreparable harm” if anyone prayed at his graduation ceremony.

Biery ruled in favour of the family and ordered the school district to remove the words “invocation” and “benediction” from the program of ceremonies, replacing them with “opening marks” and “closing marks” respectively. Further, students and other speakers were ordered to refrain from asking the audience to “join in prayer, stand or bow their heads”.

But Perry had other views and called the ruling “reprehensible”.  He opined that the First Amendment prohibits government from interfering with America’s right to freely express their religious beliefs, and the Supreme Court has also maintained that the Congress may convene everyday with a prayer. In addition to this appeal, the Liberty Institute filed an emergency appeal.

Ayesha Khan, an attorney for the Schultz family argued that the prayers were government sponsored and put pressure on their beliefs as non participation lead to disapproval from the community.

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal dissolved Biery’s injunction and ruled that the individual prayers or other remarks to be given by students at graduation are in fact school-sponsored.

Report by Sumit