Update AUSTIN - Gov. Rick Perry today made the following statement in response to a federal judge ordering a Texas school district to prohibit public prayer at a high school graduation ceremony:
"This reprehensible action taken by a federal judge underscores the increasingly inappropriate federal encroachment into the lives of Americans by unconstitutionally banning prayer at a Texas high school graduation. The First Amendment prohibits governments from interfering with Americans' rights to freely express their religious beliefs, and accordingly the U.S. Supreme Court has maintained that Congress may convene every day with a prayer. I fully support Attorney General Abbott's efforts to defend the right to pray, and Texas will continue to stand behind all those who wish to pray in our state."
SAN ANTONIO (AP) - Texas and the valedictorian of a San Antonio-area school have gone to court to allow prayer at Saturday's graduation ceremony despite an agnostic couple's opposition.
Attorney General Greg Abbott on Thursday filed a brief with the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals seeking to lift a federal judge's ban against prayer at the Medina Valley High School ceremony.
The judge Tuesday granted a temporary restraining order against public prayer sought by Christa and Danny Schultz, whose son is graduating. The family is backed by Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
Valedictorian Angela Hildenbrand joined the fight Thursday, saying her free speech rights would be violated if she's not allowed to thank God during her graduation speech. A motion has been filed on her behalf by the Liberty Institute.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)