Angela Hildenbrand | Cases | First Liberty

Federal Judge Bans Prayer from Graduation Ceremony

In 2011, a local family filed a lawsuit against the Medina Valley High School complaining about the school district’s inclusion of an invocation and benediction during graduation ceremonies.

A U.S. District Judge agreed with the plaintiffs and issued a temporary restraining order that not only disallowed the school’s “invocation” and “benediction,” but also banned prayer offered by anyone during the graduation, regardless of whether it was offered by a student or another private speaker. The judge threatened that anyone who disobeyed the order could face incarceration.

Legal Action

Angela Hildenbrand, valedictorian of Medina Valley High School, contacted First Liberty Institute for help. She planned to offer a prayer during her speech to her classmates, and she also wanted to mention her faith—but she didn’t want to go to jail.

On Angela’s behalf, First Liberty filed an emergency motion for intervention and request for relief from the temporary restraining order with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Texas Governor Rick Perry, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, and the Medina Valley School District also urged the federal appeals court to reverse the district judge’s ruling.

On June 3, 2011, the Fifth Circuit overturned the district judge’s order hours before Angela was to give her speech. The Fifth Circuit’s decision allowed Angela to offer a prayer during her graduation speech and protected her constitutional right to freely express her religious beliefs.

In August 2012, First Liberty launched The Angela Project, a nationwide effort to stop the widespread assault on religious freedom in America’s public schools. First Liberty is committed to defending the religious liberty of students and is dedicated to working to educate and empower students to know their religious liberty rights and how to stand for religious freedom when those rights are violated.

First Liberty Institute is not currently providing additional content for this case. Please see the other tabs in this case for more information.

First Liberty Institute is not currently providing additional content for this case. Please see the other tabs in this case for more information.

First Liberty Institute is not currently providing additional content for this case. Please see the other tabs in this case for more information.

Social Facebook Social Instagram Social Twitter Social Youtube Social Linkedin Social Soundcloud

Terms of UsePrivacy PolicySitemap • © 2019 Liberty Institute® is a trademark of First Liberty Institute