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I mentioned this story in another thread, but I thought it deserved it's own thread. I drove 6 hours to Castroville just 3 weeks ago to meet the Junkman at one of his detailing clinics. Now it's in the news because a court has ruled they can't have prayer at their graduation. I understand that the school cannot include that in their program. But I don't believe a judge can tell an individual student - say a valedictorian - not to say "God bless you" in their personal speech. This could get interesting.

SAN ANTONIO -- Tuesday, a Federal judge ruled that a high school graduation is not the place for prayer. The court ruling orders the Medina Valley High School in Castroville to remove the invocation and benediction from this Saturday's ceremony program.

The ruling comes after a lawsuit filed last week, by the agnostic family of a graduating senior. The lawsuit claims that the district is in violation of the U.S. Constitution.'

It was victory in court for the Schultz family. Their attorney, Ayesha Khan, represents the Washington D.C. based religious watchdog group, "Americans United." Khan says the upcoming ceremony is far from the first time the Schultz' son has been alienated by religion in school.

"He was in the school band his freshman and sophomore years," explained Khan. "And he was required to stand during prayer. So he chose not to be part of the band for his junior and senior years in order to avoid having to participate as a condition of being in a public school band."

But district officials say a state statute allows students to express their faith freely. And they've been doing so at graduation ceremonies and elsewhere for 50 years.

"We do not believe, as a school district, that we have done anything wrong," commented Chris Martinez, Assistant Superintendent for Medina Valley Independent School District. "Traditionally, our students have spoken religious language. They have used their own personal testimonies... Nonetheless, it is not under our guidance. We don't direct them or script them in what to say. It is their freedom of expression."

Per the judge's ruling, student speakers at Saturday's graduation at Medina Valley High School will still be able to speak about their personal faith. They will not, however, be allowed to ask the crowd to stand and bow their heads in prayer, or use phrases like "Amen" or "God bless you."
 

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