One of Our Black Robed Masters at Work

Friday, June 3, AD 2011

Fred Biery, a Bill Clinton appointee, is a Federal District Judge down in Texas.  In order to satisfy two village atheist parents of a student who contend that their 18 year old “child” will be irreparably damaged if any prayer escapes any lips during his high school commencement ceremony, Biery has banned all prayer at the high school commencement of the Medina Valley Independent School District on Saturday.  This includes the Judge censoring the speech of the valedictorian of the graduating class, Angela Hildebrand, a Catholic, who wished to say a prayer in her speech.

Chief U.S. District Judge Fred Biery’s order against the Medina Valley Independent School District also forbids students from using specific religious words including “prayer” and “amen.”

The ruling was in response to a lawsuit filed by Christa and Danny Schultz. Their son is among those scheduled to participate in Saturday’s graduation ceremony. The judge declared that the Schultz family and their son would “suffer irreparable harm” if anyone prayed at the ceremony.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said the school district is in the process of appealing the ruling, and his office has agreed to file a brief in their support.

“Part of this goes to the very heart of the unraveling of moral values in this country,” Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott told Fox News Radio, saying the judge wanted to turn school administrators into “speech police.”

I’ve never seen such a restriction on speech issued by a court or the government,” Abbott told Fox News Radio. “It seems like a trampling of the First Amendment rather than protecting the First Amendment.”

Judge Biery’s ruling banned students and other speakers from using religious language in their speeches. Among the banned words or phrases are: “join in prayer,” “bow their heads,” “amen,” and “prayer.”

He also ordered the school district to remove the terms “invocation” and “benediction” from the graduation program.

“These terms shall be replaced with ‘opening remarks’ and ‘closing remarks,’” the judge’s order stated. His ruling also prohibits anyone from saying, “in [a deity’s name] we pray.”

Should a student violate the order, school district officials could find themselves in legal trouble. Judge Biery ordered that his ruling be “enforced by incarceration or other sanctions for contempt of Court if not obeyed by District official (sic) and their agents.”

The Texas attorney general called the ruling unconstitutional and a blatant attack from those who do not believe in God — “attempts by atheists and agnostics to use courts to eliminate from the public landscape any and all references to God whatsoever.”

“This is the challenge we are dealing with here,” he said. “(It’s) an ongoing attempt to purge God from the public setting while at the same time demanding from the courts an increased yielding to all things atheist and agnostic.”

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9 Responses to One of Our Black Robed Masters at Work

  • Outside of maybe a blow to their little egos, I’m curious as to what “irreparable harm” the atheists think they will come to if someone prays. Will their heads explode? Are they afraid of being smitten? Maybe the roof caving in on them? Breaking out in hives?

  • Presumably Mandy the irreparable harm is exposure to a point of view they don’t agree with, something the educational process of course normally does as a matter of course.

  • Like Scalia, I think commencement prayers that are part of the official agenda are not offensive to the establishment clause, but I acknowledge that a contrary position is not unreasonable. But a restriction against a voluntary invocation by a valedictorian is indefensible.

  • Wouldn’t it be grand if the students, en masse and led by the Valedictorian, prayed the Our Father? Loudly, reverently.

  • There is nothing new under the Sun.

    Reminds of English attempts to do away with irish Irishness.

    An old ditty:

    Oh, Paddy, dear, an’ did ye hear the news that’s goin’ round?
    The shamrock is forbid by law to grow on Irish ground!
    No more St. Patrick’s Day we’ll keep, his colour can’t be seen,
    For there’s a cruel law agin’ the Wearin’ o’ the green.
    ~Author Unknown

    Living, breathing zombie constitution . . .

    “We have buried the putrid corpse of Liberty.” Mussolini, 1937.

  • “Wouldn’t it be grand if the students, en masse and led by the Valedictorian, prayed the Our Father? Loudly, reverently.”

    That is precisely what is needed G-Veg. Let the judge then do his worst. I doubt if even he would think that he could lock up parents and students who are not parties to the suit for contempt, but with this judge I would not make any bets. If he were foolish enough to do that, I can imagine that the outcry would be immense.

  • “A Living Document”.

    We have the same idiocy over here.
    Back around 2001 our then Attorney General, an ex-communist member of our then Labour government, Margaret Wilson, proclaimed the “Treaty of Waitangi” – the treaty between the British crown, white settlers and the Maori chiefs of NZ – a “Living Document”.

    So what happened?
    Radical maori started claiming the radio and TV air waves, all oil and mineral rescources, fishing rights to our 200 mile territorial limit – all sorts of crazy things that never existed back in 1840 when the treaty was signed.
    I think it would be a reasonable thing to re-introduce firing squads to resolve this sort of treasonous behaviour. (well – almost)

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