Virginia Court Bars Prayer at Public College

April 30, 2003

Source: The Boston Globe

On April 30, 2003 the Boston Globe reported that "in a precedent-setting ruling against prayer at a state college, a federal appeals court has barred the Virginia Military Institute from writing and reciting a prayer before cadets eat their evening meals. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, based in Richmond, was the first court at its level to extend to public colleges and universities a series of Supreme Court rulings against prayers at public elementary and high schools... 'VMI's supper prayer exacts an unconstitutional toll on the consciences of religious objectors,' the court said. While cadets may pray individually before, during, or after supper, the constitution bars the university from sponsoring such a religious activity, the three-judge panel added. In other recent appellate decisions involving public colleges or universities, other courts have allowed prayers at commencement exercises-- something that the Supreme Court has banned at the grade school and high school level... Yesterday, the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland called on the US Naval Academy to review its practice of leading students in lunch-time prayer, citing the Forth Circuit ruling, according to the Baltimore Sun."