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Posted 24 Feb 2001   For week ended September 17, 2000
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Sent on Mormon-News: 20Sep00

Summarized by Rosemary Pollock

School Prayer Protest To Be Held Tomorrow in Utah

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- Utah students and supporters of school prayer will gather for early morning prayer at many Salt Lake Valley high school and junior high school campuses on Wednesday for a "See You at the Pole" event. Early morning flagpole prayer meetings have been held for more than a decade and participants are maintaining the middle ground between religious freedom and church-and-state by meeting at 7 a.m. before classes begin.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June barring the Santa Fe, Texas school district from allowing student prayer before football games. The case was brought before the courts by a Mormon and a Catholic family who were challenging prayers before high school football games. "My clients are Catholic and Mormon, and they're not against prayer," said ACLU attorney Dough Leacock, who argued for the two annonymous Texas families. "What they are against is having prayer imposed on their children."

The Rev. Todd Liston, a youth pastor at Salt Lake City's Southeast Baptist Church is a spokesman for the "See You at the Pole" event. "That [the Santa Fe, Texas event] and our event are completely different. Ours is entirely voluntary, student run, student initiated. I wouldn't support forcing anyone to pray," he said.

School officials see no problem with the meetings. "In this case, they are not using district microphones to [pray], and it is not a school event, which a football game is. They also aren't using class time," said Martin Bates who is the policy and compliance officer for Granite School District.

Salt Lake City School District spokesman David Green agreed adding, "It's a protected right for the students, as long as it's not school or district sponsored." Gatherings are brief and happen before students break to attend classes.

The event is multi-denominational with dozens of Utah congregations. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does not sponsor the event. "LDS kids are welcome, too; we don't exclude anyone," said Liston. "The idea is to let students know that this is your school, and if anything is going to happen there [spiritually], it will be God moving through you guys taking the initiative," Liston added.

Source: Utah Students To Gather for School Prayer Salt Lake Tribune 16Sep00 N1 By Bob Mims: Salt Lake Tribune

Salt Lake Tribune 16Sep00 N1
By Bob Mims: Salt Lake Tribune


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See also:
Mormon News' Coverage of School Prayer

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