‘Clergy in Schools’ allowed in Texas


A program which brings volunteer clergy members into public school classrooms can continue, a federal judge ruled late last year. U.S. District Judge Joe Fisher denied a request for a restraining order filed on behalf of three anonymous Beaumont Independent School District parents who oppose the Clergy in Schools program.

“The court feels clergymen may volunteer and serve a very worthy purpose, and have,” Fisher stated at a hearing in Beaumont, Texas. “The court does not find that there’s any violation of Constitutional rights.” The Clergy in Schools program, new this year, brings volunteer clergy members into Beaumont schools to meet with students representing a cross-section of the student body.

The three anonymous families filing the complaint have four daughters among them, none of whom have participated in the voluntary program. Attorney Scott Newmar, who represented the parents, said his clients don’t oppose religion, but believe that the program interferes with their right to determine how religion will be presented to their children. Newmar argues that the program is an unconstitutional attempt to “get religion in through the back door.”

Newmar said the program should be expanded to include members of other professions. Beaumont school Superintendent Carrol Thomas said that members of other professions volunteer in other ways, and noted that the Clergy in Schools program is designed to use the communication skills of clergy members.

— E.P. News

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