West Virginia students recite Lord's Prayer at graduation despite judge's ruling

Posted: Friday, June 07, 2002

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) -- The American Civil Liberties Union will ask the Kanawha County school board to officially abolish a policy allowing student-led prayers, after a federal judge declared it invalid.

The judge's ban forced cancellation of an invocation at the St. Albans High School graduation, though more than 100 students stood during the ceremony to recite the Lord's Prayer.

U.S. District Judge John T. Copenhaver Jr. had issued his temporary restraining order on behalf of graduating senior Tyler Deveny, an atheist, shortly before the ceremony.

Principal Tom Williams said the praying students ''took this upon themselves. They stood up for what they felt was right, just as Tyler stood up for what he felt was right.''

Meanwhile, students at two high schools and an intermediate school in Davenport, Iowa, filed a federal lawsuit because the school district denied permission to distribute New Testaments and church fliers. The youths contend constitutional free speech rights are violated unless religious and nonreligious materials are treated equally.

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