Skip to comments.Parents Sue School over 'Lord's Prayer'
Posted on 05/02/2002 4:48:32 PM PDT by TaRaRaBoomDeAyGoreLostToday!Edited on 04/22/2004 12:33:21 AM PDT by Jim Robinson. [history]
Christine Skarin and her daughters are suing over Woodbine High School's graduation song.
WOODBINE, Iowa — Christine Skarin and her twins have struck a sour note with a lot of people in their farming community of Woodbine, Iowa, but this small-town dispute isn’t the same old song-and-dance.
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Sure....sure ...this has nothing to do with anti-Christian bigotry at all. Christians just *happen* to be the targets.
The people of Woodbine, Iowa just found out that this old bag and her daughters aren't friends to the town.
Bingo! If you do not believe in that religion, it is just another song to you.
And a God whose ethic is the basis for the very freedom under which they protest.
NEWS April 2, 2002: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
ICLU brings lawsuit against school that requires students to sing the Lord's Prayer at graduation
The Iowa Civil Liberties Union Foundation yesterday filed a lawsuit against the Woodbine Community School District in west central Iowa challenging the district's practice of having the school choir sing the Lord's Prayer at it's graduation ceremonies.
The suit, filed on behalf of two students and their parents, alleges that the practice of requiring students in the choir to sing the prayer violates the religious freedom of choir members. The ICLU is also arguing that including the prayer in the graduation program represents the government endorsement of a particular religious view in violation of the First Amendment.
"The Lord's Prayer represents a deeply personal affirmation of faith for millions of Christian's worldwide," said Ben Stone, executive director of the ICLU. "The government has no business forcing kids to sing such a prayer. This is about recognizing the dignity of people who don't happen to agree with the majority on a religious matter," said Stone.
The case is being brought on behalf of Donovan and Ruby Skarin, who are sophomore members of the high school choir, and their parents, Christine and Donald Skarin, all of Dunlap, Iowa.
The younger Skarins, who are twins, are suing in order to stop the school from forcing them to sing the prayer. Their parents, who pay taxes in support of the school, are suing to stop the district from spending taxpayer dollars in support of an official, government prayer, as well as to protect their parental right to raise their children free from government religious coercion.
The Skarin twins, who are 14 years old, feel uncomfortable being forced to sing the Lord's Prayer. "The prayer which they are having us sing for graduation is basically forcing us to sing praise to a God that we don't even believe in," said Donovan Skarin.
Ruby Skarin laments how the school's policy basically forces her to be disrespectful to her classmates. "I know that I am not giving the prayer the respect that I know they feel it should be given," she said.
The high school choir has performed the Lord's Prayer at Woodbine's graduation ceremony several times in the past. The Skarin twins were forced to sing the prayer last year. The ICLU believes the prayer was also included in ceremonies in 1995 and 1999. It may have been sung in other years as well.
Despite being asked by community members to remove the prayer from the program this year, district officials decided that the graduation ceremony, scheduled for May 19, 2002, would once again include the prayer.
This represents the fifth time in twenty years the ICLU has been involved in a school prayer lawsuit, although it has been nearly a decade since the ICLU went to court to stop a school-sponsored graduation prayer. The ICLU won in the district court in all five cases.
In 1993, the civil liberties organization won a district court ruling involving the Sheldon and Marcus school districts. On appeal, the case was dismissed on the unrelated issue of standing.
In the 1980s, the ICLU prevailed in three cases. In 1989, the ICLU successfully defended the West Monona school district after it was sued by a minister who wanted to force the district to include a graduation prayer. In 1985, a federal judge told the Leon school district to drop a graduation prayer after the ICLU brought suit on behalf of a graduating student. And in 1982, the principal of Thomas Jefferson High School in Council Bluffs was told by a federal judge to stop leading students in prayer at school-sponsored Christmas and Easter services. The plaintiff in that suit, Milton Abramson, received death threats.
To those who believe school-sponsored prayers should be allowed if a majority want them, the ICLU's Stone had this to say: "If we allow a small town to set up an official religion, then only people of that religion will ever live there, and religious intolerance will rule. All you have to do is look at the Middle East, Ireland and the Balkans to appreciate how lucky we are in America that we don't allow a religious majority to use the government to coerce religious minorities."
The federal lawsuit was filed in the Southern District of Iowa, Western Division, which is located in Council Bluffs. The plaintiff's seek an injunction, but are not asking for monetary damages. In addition to the ICLU's Legal Director, Randall Wilson, the Skarins will also be represented by Professor Sally Frank and law students at the Drake Legal Clinic in Des Moines.
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It has been said, "Justice is a constant struggle." From an early age, I learned the truth in that quote. As a child, I watched nightly news reports of William Kunstler and others defending the Chicago 8 and dealing with a judge and prosecution intent on jailing them because they opposed the policies of the United States government. I also saw the movie, "Inherit the Wind," depicting Clarence Darrow's defense in the Scopes trial of a teacher's right to teach evolution. Together, they inspired me to be a lawyer to fight for the rights of protesters, for freedom to dissent and for the protection of the oppressed.
As a lawyer and law professor, I have represented protesters frequently. I also have represented victims of discrimination and poor people in housing, family law and domestic abuse cases. Both in my teaching and my practice, I have tried to help the disenfranchised. With constant struggle and good preparation, lawyers can work toward the restructuring of the system and the attainment of justice.
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No agenda here folks, just decent lawyers upholding the constitution. Move on now....
See my post #30 above. The ACLU is anti-Christian. You will find the ADL and PFAW often joining them in cases. Nobody is fooled.
You got me. I am. Took someone like you who has been on FR for 8 days to uncover the secret I've kept since signing on to FR 4 years ago. Really had people fooled at the Anti-Clinton protests and at the Florida recount rallies for Bush in 2000.
Btw..where were you when Clinton's Secret Service was making occasional housecalls to freepers and many of us were wondering if we would be audited for what we said here?
Now, my mind would probably change if the song were part of a set that included mostly secular music and if the girls fully understood that being in the choir would occasionally require them to sing religious songs--as art, not as religion.
I'm usually supportive of religious expression by individuals in schools, but this seems to cross the line.
It will only be a prayer if the singer makes it so. Just ask Barbra Streisand who has recorded Christian songs for years. Actually I always thought it strange to hear her sing "Ave Maria" or a truly Christian Christmas song. But she's been doing it for years.
Some folks just want to make a stink, I guess.