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Notable Lawsuits Over School Prayer in Georgia

By    |   Wednesday, 24 June 2015 01:35 PM

In Georgia, legal wrangling over the line between church and state in the context of its public schools and school prayer has cropped up frequently.

It's not surprising to see numerous lawsuits in one of the most religious states in the nation, as measured by Gallup's report of weekly church attendance. Here are three cases in the state that revolved around religious expression in schools.

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Jager v. Douglas County – A federal appeals court ruled in 1989 that pre-game religious invocations at public high school football games violate the church-state separation principle established by the First Amendment.

The case involved a Native American member of the Douglas County (Florida) High School marching band who objected to the invocations, which were delivered on the field primarily by Protestant Christian ministers and broadcast over loudspeakers.

Under pressure, the school district changed its policy to have the remarks delivered by Douglas parents, faculty, or students instead of ministers, but the appeals court still found the invocations were religious in nature and therefore unconstitutional, coming from a public-school sponsored event.

Selman v. Cobb County – When a suburban Atlanta school district put a sticker on its science textbooks in 2002 calling evolution "a theory, not a fact," several parents sued, according to the National Center for Science Education. A legal battle lasting more than four years ensued in what came to be known informally "the textbook disclaimer case."

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In 2006, the parents suing to have the sticker removed prevailed: The Cobb County School District "agreed not to disclaim or denigrate evolution either orally or in written form," the NCSE said.

Jane Doe v. Emanuel County
– A group called the Freedom from Religion Foundation filed suit in 2015 on behalf of a family "challenging the infliction of daily prayer upon a captive audience of elementary school children" in Swainsboro, its website said.

The plaintiffs used the pseudonym "Doe" to remain anonymous. A statement accompanying the lawsuit claimed one teacher told a child, identified in the lawsuit as Jesse Doe, that "his mother was a bad person for not believing in God," the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

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In Georgia, legal wrangling over the line between church and state in the context of its public schools and school prayer has cropped up frequently.
school prayer, Georgia, lawsuits
Wednesday, 24 June 2015 01:35 PM
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