"Unconstitutional policies that serve to silence Christian students"
Under legal pressure, Covina middle school relents after first telling students they had to change 'Day of Prayer' to 'Day of Reflection'
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News release from Alliance Defense Fund
May 11, 2009
After receiving assistance from Alliance Defense Fund attorneys, students at a Royal Oak Middle School in Covina were allowed to observe the National Day of Prayer on Thursday, May 7.
Students in the Spiritual Place of Teens, or SPOT, club were initially told by school officials that they would have to change the name of the event and that they would not be permitted to advertise with flyers or posters on campus.
"Christian students shouldn't be discriminated against for expressing their beliefs," said ADF senior legal counsel David Cortman. "The so-called 'separation of church and state' does not permit school officials to silence students who wish to advertise or observe the National Day of Prayer. We are pleased that school officials chose to recognize and honor students' constitutional rights by allowing them to participate in this event."
Charter Oak School District officials initially told SPOT club members that they would have to refer to the National Day of Prayer as the "National Day of Reflection," and prohibited them from displaying materials advertising the event on campus. On Thursday, approximately 60 students and 30 adults gathered for prayer around the flagpole before the start of school in support of the NDP.
ADF attorneys sent a letter to school officials Friday, asking them to drop existing unconstitutional policies that serve to silence Christian students. The policies restrict the rights of Christian students to advertise events, access meeting space, and talk to other students about their faith.
ADF attorneys are presently defending the National Day of Prayer Task Force and its chairperson, Shirley Dobson, in a federal lawsuit brought by the Freedom From Religion Foundation to halt the observance of the annual event.