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Prayer in School Board Meetings

Court rules that this practice does not violate the First Amendment.

Key Point. The first amendments nonestablishment of religion clause does not prevent all accommodations of religious practice. Prayers before meetings of governmental or public bodies are an example of a practice that has been upheld by many courts.

A federal court in Ohio ruled that a school boards practice of opening each meeting with prayer did not violate the first amendment. The administration of Cleveland's public schools has been characterized by divisiveness and rancor among board members and superintendents for most of the past two decades. Often, meetings of the school board would be filled with so much hostility among both members and the attending public that little business was accomplished. The citizens elected several new members in 1991, and the new board president immediately announced that board meetings would "henceforth begin with prayer." At the very next meeting, ...

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  • July 1, 1997

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