Prayer Issue in Schools

Your article by Philip Hager concerning the pending decision by the state Supreme Court on whether or not to permit prayers at public school graduation ceremonies deserves comment ("Court Asked to Bar Prayers at Public High School Graduations," Part A, Feb. 7). Though I am not a litigant in this case, I helped initiate it.

Readers who live outside the Yucca Valley area in San Bernardino County where this case began ought to know that what happened at the 1981 graduation ceremonies at Yucca Valley High School was much more serious than the simple prayer mentioned in Hager's article.

What happened was a full-blown fire- and-brimstone sermon ending with an evangelistic "altar call," as it is known in Christian circles.

Objections to this and continuation of the prayers were met with hostility and arrogance by the local school board. As a compromise, it was suggested to the school board that equal time be provided to those with different opinions. This suggestion was met with scorn. The guarantee of free speech is meaningless if the government can select to whom the privilege applies.

These religious services belong in church, not at tax-supported gatherings.

PACKARD ROUNDTREE

Yucca Valley

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