Appeals court says Delaware school board's praying at meeting is unconstitutional

Aug. 8, 2011
Ruling in Indian River (Del.) board case overturns lower court decision

From The Wilmington News Journal: A U.S. Court of Appeals panel has ruled that the Indian River (Del.) school board's practice of beginning its meetings with explicitly Christian prayers violates the Constitution. The appeals court found that the prayers at board meetings created a “potentially coercive atmosphere” that violated the rights of students who might be attending. It overturned a lower court ruling that found the prayers permissible.

Read the 72-page opinion: “Given that the prayers recited are nearly exclusively Christian in nature, including explicit references to God or Jesus Christ or the Lord, we find it difficult to accept the proposition that a 'reasonable person' would not find that the primary effect of the Prayer Policy was to advance religion.”

EARLIER: FEBRUARY 2008...from The New York Times: The Indian River (Del.) school district has agreed to revise its policies on religion as part of a settlement with two Jewish families who had sued over the pervasiveness of Christian prayer and other religious activities in the schools. The settlement includes payments to the families that neither side would disclose. Although the settlement resolves many complaints in the suit, the parties are proceeding with litigation over the school board's practice of beginning its sessions with prayer.

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