U.S. District Court Rules on Praying and Bible Reading in Schools

Children attending schools in a district near here may pray or read scriptures on school property but they can do so only before or after regular school hours and in a separate room, under a federal court ruling.

U.S. District Court Judge Noel P. Fox issued the ruling in rejecting a motion by nine parents in the Jenison school district for an injunction against the school board. The parents filed suit last June complaining that the school board had violated constitutional rights in permitting classroom Bible reading and prayer. Judge Fox also denied the board’s request for summary dismissal of the suit.

He ruled also that such exercises, which he left to the individual student to accept or reject, must be completed at least five minutes before the regularly scheduled opening of classes, or at least five minutes after completion of the regular school day. He also ruled that the school board must not in any way promote a particular religious doctrine. The ruling was considered a court effort to accommodate religious exercises in a public school where objections had been raised.

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