Appellate Court Lifts Texas Graduation Prayer Ban

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A high school valedictorian prayed at her graduation in San Antonio, Texas Saturday after a federal appeals court lifted a ban by a lower court.

"This is a complete victory for religious freedom and for Angela," said Kelly Shackelford, president/CEO of Liberty Institute, a Christian legal group representing Medina class valedictorian Angela Hildenbrand.

"We are thrilled that she will be able to give her prayer without censorship in her valedictorian speech tomorrow night," she added.

Earlier this week, a federal judge sided with the agnostic parents of a Medina Valley High School senior, who claimed watching their son receive a diploma would amount to forced religious participation.

The lower court's ruling forbade students from asking the audience to join in prayer, bowing their heads, or even saying the word "prayer."

On Friday, The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the decision, granting an emergency appeal filed by the Medina Valley Independent School District.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott and various conservative groups were delighted with the three-judge panel's ruling, calling it a victory for religious freedom.

"It should not be illegal for students to say a prayer at a graduation ceremony. Now, the federal court of appeals agrees," said Abbott, who filed an "amicus brief" supporting the school's appeal.

Shackelford agreed.

"No citizen has the right to ask the government to bind and gag the free speech of another citizen," she said.

Watch Angela Hildenbrand's entire graduation prayer below.

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