Supreme Court Won’t Hear Atheists’ Case Against School Board Prayers in TX

By Hemant Mehta

The Supreme Court today rejected a request by the American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center to hear a case that would have massive repercussions for church/state separation at public school board meetings.

The case involved the Birdville Independent School District in Texas, which has a long history of promoting Christianity. They’ve punished a student for tearing pages from a Bible (and then carrying around that ripped Bible). They’ve sponsored religious Baccalaureate ceremonies. They’ve hosted religious assemblies. There are religious symbols in classrooms. And their school board meetings include religious invocations from students, some as young as six.

It’s that last bit that the AHA focused on in this lawsuit. The AHA’s Executive Director Roy Speckhardt said last year that, “By opening meetings with prayers, the Birdville school board is sending the message that they favor Christianity over other religions, and that non-Christian community members are unwelcome.” Keep in mind that students were often required to attend these meetings “for school credit, to receive recognition for academic or extracurricular achievement, to perform for the Board, or to resolve disciplinary matters.”

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