Americans United for Separation of Church and State has reached a settlement in a case it filed in Texas over prayers included in a graduation ceremony. The settlement covers a wide range of religious activities in the school, though, not just graduation prayers. From an AU press release:
Under the terms of the settlement, district officials, administrators, teachers, staff and other employees will not initiate, solicit or direct prayers; join students in prayers; proselytize or invite others to engage in these practices.
“This settlement brings an end to several practices we believed were unconstitutional and that violated students’ rights,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. “I’m glad we were able to resolve this matter out of court.”
Also under the settlement:
* School district personnel will not display crosses, religious images, religious quotations, Bibles or religious texts, or other religious icons or artifacts on the walls, hallways, and other areas at the school.
* The district will not invite speakers, including government officials or community leaders, whom it has reason to believe will proselytize or promote religion during their remarks.
* The Medina Valley High School student handbook will contain a section on students’ rights to religious freedom, including the importance of respect for and tolerance of students from all backgrounds and the specific procedures for registering a complaint with district personnel about violations.
* The district will provide annual training to all district personnel who interact with students or parents or who supervise those who interact with students or parents. The training will cover a variety of topics related to students’ rights and church-state separation.
The judge in this case, Judge Biery, is known as a bit of an eccentric. He attached an appendix to his order accepting this settlement that was unorthodox, to say the least, a long, rambling diatribe on the history of religion. And it included this:
During the course of this litigation, many have played a part:
To the United States Marshal Service and local police who have provided heightened security: Thank you.
To those Christians who have venomously and vomitously cursed the Court family and threatened bodily harm and assassination: In His name, I forgive you.
To those who have prayed for my death: Your prayers will someday be answered, as inevitably trumps probability.
To those in the executive and legislative branches of government who have demagogued this case for their own political goals: You should be ashamed of yourselves.
To the lawyers who have advocated professionally and respectfully for their clients’ respective positions: Bless you.
I like this guy.