While the American Civil Liberties Union is well known for attempts to prevent students from voluntarily praying at graduation ceremonies, it is now gone a step further in wants to ban the words ”invocation” and “benediction” from use in public school graduation ceremonies.
The ACLU has told the Lewisville Independent school district in Texas is unconstitutional to use the words benediction and invocation. The organization says the two words implied prayer and to use them as part of their commencement programs is a violation of the establishment clause.
In order to please the ACLU the district decided to label the invocation and benediction “student remarks.” Hiram Sasser with the Liberty Institute says it is not necessary to remove the words.
“They’re concerned about using the words ‘invocation’ and ‘benediction.’ There’s nothing legally magical about using those words,” he asserts. “They want to be able to use those words to describe the opening remarks and closing remarks, where students are allowed to pray and [are] certainly free to do so.”
He went on to say the liberal group is wasting their time in their attempts to squelch prayer public school graduations.
“If the kids want to pray — those who are participating and speaking at the graduation because they earned the right to do that in some way, either being the valedictorian, or student class president, or whatever the school prescribes — then those kids can pray, if they so choose,” the attorney contends. “And no government official can stop them.”
Last year an agnostic at the school was able to get judge Fred Biery to issue an order prohibiting Angela Hildenbrand from public prayer during her graduation speech. The student, who was in the senior class argued he would suffer irreparable harm if prayers were spoken at the ceremony.
The fifth US circuit Court of Appeals intervened and allowed Hildenbrand to pray. Following their decision the student chose to not attend his graduation ceremony.
Liberty Institute attorney Erin Leu said Berry’s actions violated federal and state laws. Leu said Hildenbrand was nearly telling students and parents about “her experiences and her wishes for the future — and she is not a school official and not speaking on behalf of the school.”
Tags: ACLU, American, american civil liberties union, Angela Hildenbrand, ban, ceremony, class, district, Fred Biery, graduation, graduation speech, Institute, label, Lewisville Independent, Liberty Institute, organization, right, speech, student, use