Lifestyle & Belief

Texas judge issues 'non-Kumbaya' order over school prayer debacle


Notre Dame University students pray during an alternative commencement ceremony held to protest the visit by President Barack Obama at the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes on the campus of Notre Dame University.


Scott Olson

A federal court judge in Texas has ordered two teachers to apologize for making disparaging comments about an agnostic family who sued their school district over prayer in the classroom, Slate reported

Chief US District Judge Fred Biery issued what he called a “non-Kumbaya” order Monday to Medina Valley district's Superintendent James Stansberry and high school band director Keith Riley, the San Antonio Daily News reported

Last month, Medina Valley school district reached a settlement with the plaintiffs, agreeing that administrators and other employees would not pray with students, elicit prayer, or display religious artifacts in the classroom, with the exception of jewelry. The district also agreed that its employees would not disparage the plaintiffs, according to the SA Daily News. 

After the settlement, however, Stansberry called the case a "witch hunt" in a TV interview and said mistakenly that the plaintiffs "wanted our teachers to stop wearing crosses," according to USA Today

Riley allegedly posted a Facebook comment which read "don't get me started on the lies and false accusations" of former student Corwyn Schultz, whose family filed the lawsuit that led Biery to ban organized prayer at last year's commencement but allow students to invoke their own religious beliefs, USA Today reported. 

"The court does not expect the parties to hold hands and sing 'Kumbaya' around a campfire beside the Medina River... Nor does the court expect the respondents to engage in a public spectacle of self-flagellation for communicating words better left unsaid," Judge Biery said in his statement, according to Slate. "Moreover, the court does not expect plaintiffs to become Traditional Christians, though the court suggests plaintiffs might follow the moral and civility lessons of Matthew 5:39; 'if someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.'" 

Judge Biery ordered the district employees to privately sign a statement apologizing to the Schultz familty within 10 days, the SA Daily News reported. He also asked that the plaintiffs sign a statement saying they accept the apologies.

The settlement can be enforced for the next 10 years, according to the SA Daily News. 

More from GlobalPost: Remains found near where Hailey Dunn, Texas cheerleader, went missing (VIDEO)