Written by Don Byrd
As I posted a few weeks ago, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled unconstitutional the Chino Valley School District’s practice of opening board meetings with an invocation. The prayers, the court found, often amount to “religious preaching” in front of students in violation of the Supreme Court’s prohibition on government-sponsored school prayer. The decision could set a showdown in the U.S. Supreme Court, after a 5th Circuit ruling allowing prayers in school board meetings.
In response to the controversy surrounding the Chino Valley case, the editorial board of the LA Times argued last week against both the constitutionality and the advisability of legislative prayer of any kind, saying that “the practice… marginalizes religious minorities and blurs the distinction between church and state.”
Here is an excerpt:
Inevitably a prayer offered as part of a public proceeding — whether it’s a city council meeting or a state legislative hearing or any other such gathering — will make some listeners feel excluded. That runs counter to the 1st Amendment’s prohibition of an “establishment of religion.”
The same principle ought to apply to school board meetings. Parents and taxpayers who attend those meetings shouldn’t be required to listen to prayers that invoke religious beliefs they don’t share — especially at a time when this country is becoming more religiously diverse.
Read the whole thing.