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Federal judge blocks prayer at Ky. graduation ceremony

By The Associated Press
05.19.06

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A federal judge today blocked the inclusion of prayer as part of Russell County High School's graduation ceremonies set for later in the day.

U.S. District Judge Joseph McKinley granted a temporary restraining order sought by a student who doesn't want prayer to be part of the graduation exercises tonight at the south-central Kentucky school, about 110 miles southeast of Louisville.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky filed suit on behalf of the unidentified student on May 16.

ACLU attorney Lili Lutgens said she was pleased with the judge's order and "very proud of my client for standing up for the Constitution."

Lutgens said prayer would be unconstitutional because it would endorse a specific religion and religious views.

"He did not feel that he should have to sit through government-sponsored prayer just to receive his diploma," Lutgens said of the student.

Lutgens said earlier this week that student-initiated prayer before or after the ceremony would be OK.

The student, through his attorney, had previously appealed to Russell County High Principal Darren Gossage to cancel the prayer, a request Lutgens said the principal denied.

Phone messages seeking comment from Gossage and other school district officials were not immediately returned.


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By Charles C. Haynes Best place for prayers, sermons on graduation weekend is at privately sponsored, voluntarily attended baccalaureate service held after school hours. 05.25.03

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By Charles C. Haynes Kentucky students imposed Christian prayer on public ceremony — even though there are legal, fair ways to acknowledge God at graduation. 05.28.06

Religious freedom isn’t up for a vote
By Charles C. Haynes Recent column on Kentucky graduation prayer draws reader ire; but protecting minority rights does not turn the minority into a tyrant. 06.11.06

Graduation ceremonies

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