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Gov. Norm Bangerter said he actively opposes an effort by the Utah Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union to ban prayer during graduations and other public school ceremonies.

"I think young people in our schools who choose to do that, I can't see where it ought to be offensive to anyone," the governor said Thursday during his monthly televised press conference on KUED Channel 7.He called the threat of a lawsuit by the Utah ACLU, "swatting at a gnat with a bulldozer," and said the organization should not force the state to spend money fighting a court battle.

"I think it's time that we let freedom truly ring in this country and if people want to pray in a public meeting - not a prescribed prayer - I think they ought to be able to do that," Bangerter said.

"As long as we don't do it to further a religion, I don't see there is a conflict with the Constitution," he said.

That's not the way the ACLU sees the issue. The group has said it will file a lawsuit later this summer that seeks to ban prayers at all public school activities, not just high school graduations.

High school graduation prayers became an issue last year when students sued the Jordan School District to stop the practice. The school district decided to end prayers at high school graduations rather than go to court.