The radical left has been attacking both public displays and private practice of Christianity with increasing fervor, but one court has finally pushed back.
A Texas appeals court has ruled that voluntary student-led prayers are not a violation of the First Amendment and can therefore be recited at school board meetings.
In 2015, the American Humanist Association (AHA) sued the Birdville School District because board members began their meetings with prayer, which they claimed was a violation of the First Amendment “through its practicing of promoting Christian prayers.”
Isaiah Smith, a graduate of Birdville High, claimed “the prayers made him feel unwelcome at the public meetings and that the school board endorsed Christianity.”
The court had a different opinion.
In a 3-0 decision, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected an appeal by the American Humanist Association, which said the practice by the Birdville Independent School District violated the First Amendment’s prohibition of a government establishment of religion.
The appeals court also reversed a lower court judge’s denial of “qualified immunity” to school board members, and dismissed the case against them. Birdville serves Haltom City, Texas, a suburb of Dallas and Fort Worth.
The appeals court upheld a lower court ruling which tossed the lawsuit, citing a 2014 Supreme Court ruling allowing prayers at a town council meeting in Greece, New York.
In a written statement, the Birdville school district noted the decision was a “complete vindication.”
President Trump’s Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, may herself be an advocate for introducing prayer in school.
In 2000, a Wall Street Journal article described DeVos as an activist who spent time “crisscrossing Michigan in a huge Lincoln Navigator with a Bible in the seat pocket.” She would start and end some meetings with voucher supporters in prayer.
In 2001, she was recorded in an interview saying her work in education is akin to someone who wants to “advance God’s Kingdom.”
The bottom line is, most understand that offering a prayer before a meeting is no violation of the separation of church and state, nor is it a ‘coercion’ or endorsement of Christianity.
Circuit Judge Jerry Smith wrote the decision allowing prayer before school board meetings.
“Most attendees at school-board meetings, including Smith, are mature adults,” he wrote, and even board members’ “polite” requests that the audience stand during invocations “do not coerce prayer.”
Read more at the Political Insider