Here's a ruling that cries out for reversal: A federal judge in Delaware ruled Monday that it is constitutional for the Indian River School Board to open its meetings with Christian prayers, a ruling that could broaden what's allowed at school board meetings throughout the state.
Farnan found that the elected school board is closer to a legislative body than a school, and therefore a prayer is permissible.
"Although reasonable people can differ as to whether the board's policy is wise, could be more inclusive or is actually necessary to solemnize board meetings, 'too much judicial fine-tuning of legislative prayer policies risks unwarranted interference in [a legislative body],' " Farnan wrote.
The judge concluded that the Indian River School Board did not use its prayer policy "to proselytize or advance religion," so he believed that the court "may not demand anything further" of the board.
The article goes on to explain that:
The lawsuit charged the district created "an environment of religious exclusion" through the use of often explicitly Christian prayers at school board meetings, athletic events, banquets and graduation services. The federal civil suit also charged that students involved in Christian religious groups received preferential treatment, one district teacher told his class there is "only one true religion" and a science teacher told her class she did not believe in the big bang theory and then encouraged students to attend the Bible club to learn more.
The Dobriches claimed they were harassed and felt they had no choice but to file a lawsuit after Mona Dobrich complained about a Christian prayer offered at her daughter's June 2004 graduation. She said abuse and harassment increased after the lawsuit was filed.
In part because of fears of harassment, Farnan allowed the second family in the lawsuit to remain anonymous.
A year ago, the district settled the bulk of the lawsuit relating to its schools and school activities. The district made an undisclosed payment to the families, promised not to promote a specific religion and adopted new policies the plaintiffs helped draft encouraging tolerance. The district also instituted new procedures to handle complaints about diversity issues.
The settlement intentionally left out the issue of the school board praying before its meetings so it could be decided separately.
Of course, if this were a school district where a majority of the school board members were Moslems, I'm sure that the judge would have reached the same decision about opening school board meetings with a reading from the Koran. No, he wouldn't have. And we won't even consider a school board that wanted to cast a circle, call the Elements, and invoke a Goddess to begin its meeting.
I'm a woman, a Witch, a mother, a grandmother, an eco-feminist, a gardener, a reader, a writer, and a priestess of the Great Mother Earth. Hecate appears in the
Homeric Ode to Demeter, which tells of Hades who caught Persophone
"up reluctant on his golden car and bare her away lamenting. . . . But no one, either of the deathless gods or of mortal men, heard her voice, nor yet the olive-trees bearing rich fruit: only tenderhearted Hecate, bright-coiffed, the daughter of Persaeus, heard the girl from her cave . . . ."