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CACHE SCHOOL BOARD URGED NOT TO LET ACLU’S THREATS INFLUENCE POLICY ON PRAYER

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The Cache County School Board was urged Friday not to let the threat of a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union influence any policy decision regarding prayers at graduations.

Joy Beech, executive director of Families Alert, a morality watchdog group, said she is rallying Utah districts to petition the Legislature to establish a legal fund for testing constitutional issues such as graduation prayers.Beech told the board the move may "end the bullying and the tyranny" by groups such as the ACLU.

"I've found several school districts who say they would be glad to join you (the board), but they would like to see the language of the proposed legislation," she said.

At that point, however, board member Justin Anderson told Beech she is "not the board's representative," and advised her not to assume the board had taken a position in favor of graduation prayer.

The Cache district allowed prayer at graduation ceremonies this year. It later met with the ACLU to discuss the issue, at which time ACLU attorney Michael O'Brien told the board that the "establishment clause of the First Amendment prohibits government from favoring one religion over another, or religion over non-religion."

Beech said many people in Cache County favor prayer at graduation and "we are trying to help so you won't be afraid to do what your constituents want you to do."

She said now is a good time to create a legislative fund to fight for constitutional issues because there is a budget surplus.

Kathy Benson, who said five of her children attend schools in the district, told the board the ACLU has taken a position against censorship of pornographic music lyrics while censoring prayer at graduation.