Thursday, January 12, 2012

High School Prayer Mural Violates Establishment Clause

In Ahlquist v. City of Cranston, (D RI, Jan. 11, 2012), a Rhode Island federal district court held that a high school student has standing to challenge on Establishment Clause grounds a prayer mural that hangs in her school's auditorium.  The mural contains the text of a School Prayer that was routinely recited by students before the practice was invalidated by the U.S. Supreme Court's school prayer decision in 1962. The mural, and another containing the school creed, were presented to the school by the Class of 1963. The court granted plaintiff a permanent injunction requiring immediate removal of the mural.  In finding that it violates the Establishment Clause, the court said in part:
The purposes of the Prayer when drafted, and the Prayer Mural, when installed, were clearly religious in nature.... No amount of debate can make the School Prayer anything other than a prayer, and a Christian one at that.
The Cranston Patch reports on the decision, as does the Boston Globe. (See prior related posting.)

UPDATE: The Humanist Examiner reports that the teenage plaintiff in the case has been bombarded with taunts and threats of physical violence, many through social media.