— The Tangipahoa Parish School Board voted unanimously Tuesday to adopt a model prayer policy drafted by attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund. The new policy sets forth constitutional guidelines for board members to reinstitute the longstanding tradition of opening meetings with an invocation.
“The practice of opening public meetings with prayer is and always has been lawful,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Mike Johnson. “The Constitution does not ban citizens or elected officials from invoking divine guidance and blessings upon their public work. It’s a practice that is part of our nation’s religious heritage, and the Constitution does not prevent public officials today from doing the same thing America’s founders did.”
The Tangipahoa Parish School Board has been a frequent legal target of the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU has filed five lawsuits in 13 years against the Tangipahoa Parish School Board on matters related to religion in some form.
On July 26, a full panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit issued a landmark decision in favor of the Tangipahoa Parish School Board, whose rights were successfully defended by ADF attorneys. The ruling severely undercut the ACLU and its “offended observer” claims in Establishment Clause cases.
“Public officials throughout our country need to be encouraged and reminded that they can and should resist the increasingly radical demands of secularist groups. Just because the ACLU claims it is ‘offended’ by hearing a public prayer does not mean the prayer has to be silenced,” said Johnson.
A copy of the model prayer policy adopted by the Tangipahoa Parish School Board can be read here. The policy is based on the same model that ADF recently distributed to thousands of American cities and has already been adopted by a growing number of local governments.
ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith. Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.