Don't silence spirituality

Judge's ruling on graduation prayer was miles off the mark

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Normally it would be folly to suggest an officeholder be drummed out on his stump for making a bad decision.

We might make an exception for this guy.

Texas federal Judge Fred Biery ruled last week that students at Medina Valley High School's graduation last Saturday couldn't even say the words "prayer" or "amen." An agnostic family had sued, fearing that valedictorian Angela Hildenbrand would share her well-known spiritual side in her address.

The family said it would have done their little baby irreparable harm to hear it.

To begin with, it's reprehensible enough that anyone would try to use the fearsome powers of the federal government as a cudgel to silence a classmate ahead of time. It's one of the most intolerant actions we've ever heard of in these United States.

Certain lawyers have created a false impression throughout the land that the Constitution gives one the right to be free from religion. Sorry, that right doesn't exist. You cannot use the government to silence your neighbor because his or her expressions of spirituality offend you.

But for a judge to say that you can, and to issue an order of prior restraint restricting an American's free speech? That's infinitely worse. To us, that seems an impeachable offense.

It speaks volumes that his ruling's unconstitutionality was such a no-brainer that the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals tossed Biery's decision out with the trash within hours and allowed the graduation to proceed unfettered by his tyrannical poppycock.

Federal judges are sworn to uphold the Constitution. This one clearly did not.

"The reality is, the judge's order. not a prayer Angela might offer in her speech, violated the First Amendment," writes Washington Examiner legal contributor Ken Klukowski -- who goes on to note the perversity of a system that would allow the vilest sort of video games but not a student's voluntary prayer.

"So ironically," he adds, "there is a First Amendment violation here. But it comes from stopping Angela's prayer, not from allowing it."

We would also argue that the First Amendment precludes the government from "prohibiting the free exercise" of religion. A voluntary prayer at a graduation is the free exercise of one's religious views.

These are the most basic rights we have under the Constitution -- rights that our Founders not only acknowledged in their words and deeds, but who believed that such rights flowed from God, not from federal judges.

Again, we would usually caution against removing public officials for making bad decisions. But this one was so beyond the pale and the Constitution that it makes you wonder if there should be an exception.

As for the attempt by one family to use the government to silence another: The family was represented by the Americans United for the Separation of Church and State.

Separation of church and state? We're for it in this case! Stop trying to use the state as a bludgeon to silence the spiritual!

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Riverman1
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Riverman1 06/09/11 - 11:05 pm
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This must be Texas week for

This must be Texas week for the AC editoral board. But you are right. There's no reason people can't exercise their right to voluntarily pray. By the way, I predict this thread will have at least a hundred comments. We do love our religious debates.

scoopdedoop64
2366
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scoopdedoop64 06/10/11 - 01:28 am
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I am amazed at this judge for

I am amazed at this judge for not understanding such a basic concept as free speech. I agree ACES with your call. He should be replaced. Riverman, you are right about the comments exceeding 100.

Fundamental_Arminian
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Fundamental_Arminian 06/10/11 - 03:35 am
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"An agnostic family had sued,

"An agnostic family had sued, fearing that valedictorian Angela Hildenbrand would share her well-known spiritual side in her address.

"The family said it would have done their little baby irreparable harm to hear it" (editorial).

I doubt that this family is really agnostic. Agnostics don't know if God exists or consider it impossible to be sure if he exists. People who haven't made up their minds about God tend to be open to discussion except when they're not in the mood to talk about religion.

By filing this lawsuit, the family has shown itself to be anti-God, just as the Americans United for Separation of Church and State has shown itself to be pro-censorship. There was a hidden agenda to this lawsuit in that supposedly free-thinking people were conspiring to use the government to suppress the free exercise of a religion they despise.

Congratulations to Angela Hildenbrand for being named valedictorian! Contrary to popular opinion, not all Christians are stupid.

southernguy08
499
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southernguy08 06/10/11 - 07:23 am
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Terrorists trying to destroy
Unpublished

Terrorists trying to destroy us, a 14 trillion dollar national debt, and a president intent on spending us into bankruptcy, but somehow saying a prayer at a school graduation ceremony is more dangerous to this "wise" judge. We live in one messed up world!

Bizkit
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Bizkit 06/10/11 - 07:54 am
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She should get up and the

She should get up and the give the speech just like she pleases. I can't imagine they would arrest her for practcing her constitutional right of free speech. Now that would make headlines. If she were homosexual and wanted to make prohomosexual comments I doubt anyone would be able to stop her.

effete elitist liberal
3112
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effete elitist liberal 06/10/11 - 08:20 am
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More over-the-top rhetorical

More over-the-top rhetorical blathering from ACES over school graduation prayers. Of course, as usual, MikeR has most of the facts wrong. I have read the decisions of both the federal and appellate courts--bet our esteemed editorial editor hasn't. The appeals court did NOT vacate the lower court injunction because its constitutionality was so obviously a "no-brainer." In fact, the appeals court emphasized the case was only in its "preliminary" stages, that the record was still "incomplete," and that parts of the original suit were moot because the high school had already acceded to some of the "agnostic" student's complaints. None of this comes close to the sort of high-principled defense of the constitution the ACES editorial claims. The appeals court did say it was not persuaded the case would substantially prevail on its merits, meaning that in its interpretation of the facts, the possible unconstitutionality of the proposed prayer was not strong enough to justify prior restraint. Again, that is a very different thing from what ACES claims. The appeals court IN NO WAY addressed the specific constitutional issues raised by the federal court judge. In fact, the case was remanded to the same federal court for possible future action against the school and the student. That means the appeals court provided for future constitutionally based relief for the plaintiffs when the case is "riper," when what actually happened becomes clear. And ACES is dead wrong that the courts have not placed rather stringent limits on prayer at school graduations, all justified by the First Amendment principle against state sponsoring of religion. No one any longer denies the Supreme Court has outlawed school graduation prayers that in any way have been "sponsored" by the school, or where the student asks the audience to pray with her. Sorry ACES, that's the law!

nofanofobama
6820
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nofanofobama 06/10/11 - 08:27 am
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BIZKIT --its not politically

BIZKIT --its not politically correct to be a practicing christian but any other behavior is to be celebrated ..so Now over the years of liberal thought, celebration of GOD, family morals and country are radical and dangerous and we are to be feared along with returning service men and women, as potential terrorist as suggested by homeland security. when you dont believe in moral standards that are universal **then any one who does must be silenced..isnt it wonderful that the left is so tolerant..

effete elitist liberal
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effete elitist liberal 06/10/11 - 08:56 am
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BIZKIT: "I can't imagine

BIZKIT: "I can't imagine they would arrest her for practcing her constitutional right of free speech." And you'd be absolutely correct!
She would never be "arrested" for her prayer. That, of course, is because her prayer, if unconstitutional, is not a CRIMINAL offense. This is a CIVIL issue. Now if the court injunction had been left to stand and the Texas student had defied the injunction and led prayer anyway, she might be subject to arrest, but that is not what we, including you, are talking about. In my opinion, anyone who fails to make the basic distinction between civil and criminal law has virtually no credibility on this issue.

soldout
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soldout 06/10/11 - 08:59 am
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The devil gets freedom of

The devil gets freedom of speech but God doesn't. A little strange but once a group of people believe it is okay to kill un-born babies they have pretty well become a member of satan's team and all things that have been right forever suddenly become very wrong. Some call it a mental illness but Jesus called it a demonic influence and went around casting it out of folks. Evolution is pure religion (something coming from nothing) and is taught by the state as an attempt to explain away God. If the state can promote that religion we can sure promote Christ at every level.

effete elitist liberal
3112
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effete elitist liberal 06/10/11 - 09:07 am
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Fundamental: a little lesson

Fundamental: a little lesson in American history for you: the Founding Fathers were almost all "pro-God." In their wisdom, as reflected in the prohibitions expressed in the First Amendment, they recognized the dangers to the republic when God becomes a political football, as we might say today. And as you can see from this editorial, that is exactly what has happened. To claim that supporting constitutional restrictions on religious expression in certain circumstances is "Ant-God" is laughable. There was a time, before Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and Georgia's own Ralph Reed got into the act, that the religious right promoted keeping God out of politics (it's true--you can read all about it in the history books if you doubt me). Were they being "Anti-God"?

effete elitist liberal
3112
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effete elitist liberal 06/10/11 - 09:09 am
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soldout: about your last

soldout: about your last post???? You...Oh, forget it.

augusta citizen
9305
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augusta citizen 06/10/11 - 09:20 am
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Good call, effete elitist

Good call, effete elitist liberal, you were smart to forget it on soldout's comment, can't undo the truth and soldout is speaking the Truth.

nofanofobama
6820
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nofanofobama 06/10/11 - 09:53 am
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if you believe there are

if you believe there are universal moral truths there can not be a seperation of belief and politics..and true christians would not believe in this seperation . .now this does not mean there ought to be one a state-religion and i think the founders were careful in establishing that..but no where was there to be exclusion of religion either..but on issues such as abortion its either morally right or wrong. and a politician that tries to have it both ways is a liar.

Beck Tears
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Beck Tears 06/10/11 - 10:31 am
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If a Muslim student was

If a Muslim student was silenced for wanting to say a Muslim prayer and add "Allah is great", I wonder if ACES and other Christian folks would make a stand and support the Muslim people and their freedoms.

Beck Tears
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Beck Tears 06/10/11 - 10:39 am
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Oh- and a side note: When the

Oh- and a side note: When the Supreme Court ruled that the Westboro Baptist Church can continue being crazy under because of the free speech, I remember ACES and others being very upset by the ruling.

effete elitist liberal
3112
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effete elitist liberal 06/10/11 - 11:35 am
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augusta citizen: I should

augusta citizen: I should have known irony wouldn't work. I'll know better next time....

effete elitist liberal
3112
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effete elitist liberal 06/10/11 - 11:37 am
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Beck Tears: great posts! Of

Beck Tears: great posts! Of course ACES defends freedom of religious expression only when it affects Christians of the "right sort."

Chillen
17
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Chillen 06/10/11 - 12:42 pm
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Only problem with what you

Only problem with what you say effete elitist liberal is that the Christians (and somewhat the Jewish - see Israel as example) are the only ones the govt is seeking to silence.

They are bending over backwards to pander to and cater to the muslims, atheists, wickens, hindu's, you name it......

Gee.........I wonder why?

augusta citizen
9305
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augusta citizen 06/10/11 - 01:19 pm
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I got your irony and your

I got your irony and your point. Your point was pretty clear, so I rebuked it. The point is the same, whether stated literally or ironically.

soldout
1280
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soldout 06/10/11 - 03:33 pm
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augusta citizen; thank you

augusta citizen; thank you

rmwhitley
5547
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rmwhitley 06/10/11 - 05:52 pm
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This tripe was promulgated by
Unpublished

This tripe was promulgated by the entitlement mentality instilled by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. You ain't seen nuthin' yet.

JesusSavesAtCitiBank
2
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JesusSavesAtCitiBank 06/11/11 - 12:07 am
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Let me ask you guys a

Let me ask you guys a question: If the students in question who wanted to pray were Muslim, Jews, Pagans, or any other religion other than Christianity would you all still be this worked up???

And yes RM Civil Rights and Voting Rights for all are just awful aren't they? *rollseyes*

No wonder people look at this country and laugh.

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