Freedom Writer - July 1994 [ref001] Graduation prayer advisory Public school officials sho

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Freedom Writer - July 1994 [ref001] Graduation prayer advisory Public school officials should resist Religious Right pressure to include prayer in graduation ceremonies, according to Americans United for Separation of Church and State. In a letter and legal memorandum sent to school administrators in all 50 states, the religious liberty watchdog organization said organized religious worship at public school events is unconstitutional under a long line of Supreme Court church-state rulings. Americans United Legal Director Steven K. Green warned that Pat Robertson's American Center for Law and Justice and other Religious Right legal aid groups are distributing "misleading and inaccurate" information on the subject. The ACLJ and other allied groups claim that schools may allow graduating seniors to vote on whether to choose a classmate to lead prayers. (The advice is based on _Jones_v._Clear_Creek_Independent_ School_District_, a 1993 Federal Appeals Court decision from Texas.) However, Green said the _Jones_ decision is not in keeping with the Supreme Court's 1993 _Lee_v._Weisman_ decision and other rulings that bar state-sponsored prayer at graduation and other public school events. "The Constitution mandates that decisions on religious worship be left to the individual and not be subject to majority vote," Green observed. Graduation prayer remains a hot issue around the country. In five states -- New Jersey, Idaho, Texas, Florida, and Tennessee -- federal lawsuits are ongoing. In addition, state legislatures have debated the role of prayer at graduation ceremonies and other public school events. Six states -- Georgia, Virginia, Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, and Tennessee -- have approved bills on the subject. The issue has been debated in at least three other states and the District of Columbia. [ref002][ref003] Return to table of contents Copyright 1995 IFAS The Freedom Writer / ifas@crocker.com [ref001] ../banner.gif [ref002] index.html [ref003] ../../uparrow.gif This file is copywritten by the Institute for First Amendment Studies. Subscribe to The Freedom Writer and Walk Away news letters by writing to or telephoneing the Institute for First Amendment Studies: Post Office Box 589 Great Barrington, Massachusetts. 01230 Telephone: (413) 528-3800 E-Mail: ifas@crocker.com Web page: http://www.crocker.com/~ifas

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