A private baccalaureate service at a public high school gym in Laramie, Wyoming, in 1993 led to a lawsuit over school prayer and a federal court decision that is often cited in articles and literature about religious expression and the First Amendment.
In Shumway v. Albany County School District, a U.S. District Court in Cheyenne, Wyoming, ruled that the spring baccalaureate could proceed as planned because the school board had made it clear they were simply renting out space for an event, not promoting a religious viewpoint, according to Leagle.com
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The court's opinion stated that "there is little realistic danger that the community will think the Board is endorsing religion or any particular creed if plaintiffs are permitted to rent, on the same terms and conditions as any other group, the Laramie High gymnasium."
The decision still stands, according to advocates on both sides of the issue — the Freedom From Religion Foundation
(FFRF) as well as the faith-oriented National Legal Foundation (NLF).
The latter group, working with the plaintiffs, filed the original lawsuit and prevailed in a ruling "which has allowed these religious services to continue," according to an National Legal Foundation case summary
"The general rule that a school may not sponsor a baccalaureate service but must (in most cases) allow outside organizations to use the school's facilities for holding their own baccalaureate services is relatively clear," writes lawyer and author Christopher B. Gilbert in "The Oldest Rule
: A Primer on Student First Amendment Issues for Attorneys and School Officials."
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