FaithWorld

Prayers and religious terms removed from Texas public school graduation

(High school graduates, 25 May 2007 /Chris Moncus)

A U.S. federal judge has ruled that a high school graduation in a suburb of San Antonio, Texas may not include an opening and closing prayer or the words “invocation” or “benediction.” District Judge Fred Biery ruled on Tuesday that using those words would make it sound like Castroville’s Medina Valley High School is “sponsoring a religion.”

“We think that the district has been flouting the law for decades,” said Ayesha Kahn, an attorney for Americans United for Church and State, which filed the lawsuit. “We’re glad that the court is going to put an end to it.”

No appeal of the ruling is planned, and the invocation and benediction will no longer take place, said Chris Martinez, assistant superintendent of the Medina Valley Independent School District. “Our entire school system is set up on following the rules, and we are going to do that,” Martinez told Reuters. “But this is one parent’s opinion of what we are doing. We don’t believe we have done anything wrong.”

Read the full story by Jim Forsyth here.

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No prayer against swine flu?

swine-flu-mass-1Jim Forsyth, our stringer in San Antonio, Texas, reports:

San Antonio has been hard hit by the swine flu, but if local Roman Catholics go to Mass to pray for deliverance from the disease, they may not get the relief they had hoped for. Archbishop Jose Gomez has issued a letter to priests in the archdiocese recommending they make changes in the Mass because of the swine flu outbreak.

“I am requesting that you offer Holy Communion under only one species, bread only,” Gomez told his priests. “Also, during the Lord’s Prayer, please suspend the holding of hands and the shaking of hands or embracing during the sign of peace.”

“Common sense would dictate that washing of hands by ministers and others who come in contact with people can be effective in preventing the spread of swine flu,” Gomez wrote.

Texas reaches evolution compromise: who won, who lost?

The State Board of Education in Texas voted on Friday to remove a long-time science curriculum rule that required “strengths and weaknesses” of scientific theories be covered in the classroom.

It also struck down two proposed sections that would have required students in high school biology classes to study the “sufficiency or insufficiency” of common ancestry and natural selection of species.

But it settled on a compromise that will require teachers to discuss “all sides” of scientific theories with their students. This may allow both sides to claim a victory of sorts.