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| | |-+  ACLU Trying to Ban Prayer Again!
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« on: August 22, 2004, 06:29:43 AM »

School District Officials Counseled To Defend Their Religious Liberty

by Jim Brown
August 20, 2004

(AgapePress) - The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is demanding that a Delaware school district stop all prayers at its monthly business meetings and other school-related functions.

Indian River School District in Wilmington will hold an emergency school board meeting at 7:00 p.m. on Monday, August 23, to decide whether to continue opening its business meetings with a short prayer. The ACLU has vowed to file a lawsuit if the district decides on Monday to allow an invocation at Tuesday's night's business meeting.

John Whitehead is president of the Rutherford Institute, an organization that defends religious freedom in court cases. He has offered to defend the Delaware school district, which he contends is not doing anything unconstitutional since these meetings "are adult functions where you have adults saying a 30-second prayer -- an adult councilman -- and you have adult people attending."

The attorney explains that those cases in which the Supreme Court has ruled any type of prayer or speech illegal in public schools "has dealt exclusively with children, such as at graduation [ceremonies], where a minister gives a prayer." And, he notes, he and other religious freedom litigators consider those rulings to be "decisions wrongly decided."

If the Indian River School District has to go to court to defend its members' religious freedom, Rutherford Institute, a non-profit civil liberties organization, has pledged to cover the legal expenses. Whitehead, who has been in close consultation with the district officials, says the prayers at their meetings in no way violate the First Amendment and legal precedent supports this fact.

Rutherford Institute's president says this case is similar to the 1983 case of Marsh v. Chambers. In that ruling, he says, "the Supreme Court upheld legislative prayers -- even with chaplains giving them -- in the legislatures, whether it be Congress or state legislatures. So we think it's an analogous situation."

Whitehead says the ACLU has a long history of attacking prayers at city council and school board meetings. Nevertheless, the attorney says, "We think the school board should just stand tight and go ahead and exercise their constitutional rights." He expects the board probably will move forward and permit the prayer at Tuesday's meeting.



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