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U.S. Judge Rules School’s Prayers Illegal

Associated Press

A federal judge ruled Monday that a rural Mississippi public school district violated the Constitution by permitting Bible classes and morning prayers over the intercom system.

“The Bill of Rights was created to protect the minority from tyranny by the majority,” U.S. District Judge Neal Biggers wrote in rejecting the school’s practice as illegal.

Lisa Herdahl sued in 1994 to end school prayers in the largely Baptist community of Ecru, saying her five children have a constitutional right not to engage in student-led prayers and should not be taunted for their Lutheran beliefs.

Biggers said school prayer can exist without violating the Constitution, but teachers must be neutral and may not promote religious practices.

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“Without the benefit of such a document, women in this county have been burned because the majority of their townspeople believed their religious practices were contrary to the tenets of fundamentalist Christianity,” he wrote.

David Ingebretsen of the American Civil Liberties Union said the ruling was “a complete victory for the idea of individual religious freedom.”

North Pontotoc School Supt. Jerry Horton said the defendants “believed we were right.” No decision had been made on an appeal.


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