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Wednesday, June 08, 2011

VALEDICTORIAN BATTLES HER WAY TO PRAYER AT GRADUATION


Aimee Herd/June 7, 2011


"I'm glad she's able to say what she wants to say and express her thoughts." –Laura Cruz

(Castroville, TX)—These days, it seems to happen every year—a student is prevented from planning a prayer to share at the podium during their graduation, because of the objection of even just one.

Valedictorian Angela Hildenbrand was one student who was fighting to maintain that right of free speech and freedom of religion.

Angela at graduation"I had hoped to use prayer to encourage my fellow graduates to trust God's plan for their lives," Hildenbrand explained, recorded in an article by Citizen Link.

But a parent of one of her classmates sued, saying that a prayer during the school graduation would be unconstitutional.

Last Tuesday, Judge Fred Biery agreed with the parent, ruling that: students cannot "present a prayer" or "end their remarks with 'amen' or 'in a (deity's name) we pray.'" In addition, "they shall not otherwise deliver a message that would commonly be understood to be a prayer, nor use the word 'prayer' … to encourage others who may not believe in prayer, to join and believe the same concept," according to the CL report.

However, Hildenbrand and the Liberty Institute, the school district and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott appealed to the 5th Circuit Court to reverse the ruling and allow her to pray.

On Friday—just a day before the Medina Valley High School graduation—the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Judge Biery was wrong to order that public prayer to be banned from the ceremony, granting Hildenbrand's appeal and restoring her right to publicly thank God and pray for herself and fellow students.

One supporter remarked, "I'm all for her that she took a stand in what she believed in as many people are scared to do."

The family that filed the lawsuit did not attend the ceremony.


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