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School Prayer Under Fire In New Court Case

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A lawsuit involving a South Carolina school district and a Washington-based legal center over the right to pray in school could skip trial and immediately go to a verdict.

The American Humanist Association's Appignani Legal Center filed for summary judgment on Feb. 4, believing that the evidence in the case is strong enough to where the court should rule in its favor.

At the beginning of the 2013-2014 school year, the Legal Center filed a suit to stop Mountain View Elementary School from holding fifth grade commencement ceremonies in the chapel at nearby North Greenville University.  According to the Center, a parent complained about the "unconstitutional nature" of the graduation ceremonies as the cause of the lawsuit.

Monica Miller, the Center's attorney, said in September 2013: "The federal courts have been clear that events like these violate the constitutional principle of separation of church and state.  Any event sponsored by a public school must not violate that principle."

The lawsuit alleges that the prayers performed by students during the commencement were approved and solicited by school administratiors and were only Christian in nature.

The Humanist Association is asking for damages of $1 in value for the rights of the family, of which the Center is legally representing, as well as fees to cover the expenses of the lawsuit. 

In a statement, Greenville County Schools spokesperson Oby Lyles said that the administration does "not agree with the organization's blanket statements about the District" and that the school "will continue to defend its neutral stance on religion that results from the obligation to balance the First Amendment's prohibition of promoting religion with the protected ability for individuals to express themselves from a religious perspective."


Photo Credit: caddy_corner/Flickr,


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