by Rusty Pugh
(AgapePress) – The American Family Association’s expert on constitutional matters says an appeals court ruling allowing prayer in Florida public schools is a big victory for the right to express one’s religion.
The 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals has ruled that students in Florida public schools may choose a classmate to give a prayer at high school graduation. AFA Center for Law & Policy attorney Brian Fahling says the court’s ruling is fundamentally different from that of the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled that student-led prayers at public school football games in Texas were unconstitutional. He says in the Florida ruling, the students are not actually sanctioning what the speaker can or cannot say.
Fahling calls the ruling a victory both for free speech rights and the right to express one’s religion.
“I think there’s genuine hostility in our culture towards religious speech in the public square,” Fahling says. “It genuinely is true that you’re free to curse God, but if you actually should praise Him, then you’ll find the ACLU types knocking on your door and attempting to drag you into court. Now, the good news at least in the 11th Circuit, is that they’re willing to allow students to speak on religious subjects.”
Fahling says this ruling affirms that religious speech is not second-class speech. He says a student cannot be forced to censor himself or herself of religious speech if they are chosen to speak at a particular event.
(This update courtesy of Agape Press.)