Court Lifts Ban On Prayer At Texas High School Graduation

Jun 3, 2011

"Public prayer will be allowed at a Texas high school graduation after a federal appeals court on Friday reversed a ban won by an agnostic family that claimed ceremony traditions such as invocations are unconstitutional," the AP writes.

On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Fred Biery barred students from asking the audience to join in prayer or bow their heads, a move Governor Rick Perry called "reprehensible" today. The San Antonio Express-News reports the original ruling unleashed furor, including threats to the school and the judge:

All week, the furor over the issue had attracted activists and political players who criticized the decision and supported valedictorian Angela Hildenbrand, who wants to pray during her commencement speech.

The AGAPE Movement, a Christian group based in Wichita Falls, announced Friday it would make buses available to transport people to the school in Castroville for a "peaceful disagreement" with this week's ruling by Chief U.S. District Judge Fred Biery of San Antonio.

"This is a complete victory for religious freedom and for Angela," said Kelly Shackelford, president/CEO of the Liberty Institute, a conservative non-profit that advocates for churches caught up in legal tangles and which represented Hildenbrand. "We are thrilled that she will be able to give her prayer without censorship in her valedictorian speech tomorrow night."

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