Tuesday, June 20, 2000
Court decision met with disappointment
SANTA FE, Texas -- The Supreme Court has spoken, but that
doesn't necessarily mean there won't be any prayers anymore before
football games at Santa Fe High.
In a 6-3 ruling Monday, the court barred school officials in
this Houston suburb of 10,000 from letting students lead stadium
crowds in prayer before games.
However, school board member Robin Clayton warned that the
mostly Baptist district cannot control what students or others say
on their own.
"Spontaneous things happen, don't they?" Clayton said at a
The high court said the school improperly sponsored religion by
allowing the student body to elect someone to give an invocation
before football games.
School board members said they do not yet know what kind of
rules will be adopted in place of the old ones.
"We got a very disappointing, disturbing and disillusioning
answer from the Supreme Court this morning," said John Couch II,
president of the Santa Fe school system for the past two years.
This spring, the invocation was delivered by Marian Ward,
daughter of the Rev. Bob Ward, a Southern Baptist minister. She was
attending a church camp and unavailable for comment Monday, he
During Marian Ward's speech, graduate Amanda Bruce sat in silent
protest. She said Monday she believes the school district will find
a way to work prayer into football games in spite of the Supreme
"Every self-righteous person around here wants" prayer, said
Bruce, a Catholic.
The lawsuit that led to the Supreme Court decision was filed by
two women -- one Catholic and one Mormon -- whose identities were
sealed by the courts. Both still have children in the district and
were elated by the decision, said friend Debbie Mason.
"Thank God, thank God," said Mason, a Baptist who has put four
children through the district. "This time it was football games,
next it could have been the classroom. It is a slippery slope. This
school district knew what it was doing and kept pushing and
Three of the seven board members attended the news conference at
the school administration building.
Asked about recent allegations that a Jewish middle school
student was harassed, they denied that there is any climate of
exclusion in the district, which is predominantly white, Hispanic
Superintendent Richard Ownby noted that the middle school has
taken field trips to Holocaust Museum Houston, and that "The Diary
of Anne Frank" is part of the curriculum.
At his business across the street from the news conference,
Kenneth Jacob was disappointed by the high court's ruling.
"You walk down the school hallway any day and you'll hear the
Lord's name taken in vain, but you can't pray," Jacob said. "When
you take God out of anything, you put the devil in his place."