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School Officials Ordered To Apologize To Agnostic Family Over Prayer Controversy

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File photo of a Florida courtroom. (credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

File photo of a Florida courtroom. (credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

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SAN ANTONIO (CBS Houston/AP) — A judge in San Antonio has ordered two educators to apologize to an agnostic family in a lingering school prayer dispute.

Chief U.S. District Judge Fred Biery on Monday ordered Medina Valley Independent School District Superintendent James Stansberry and band director Keith Riley to apologize. The judge declined to hold them in contempt.

The San Antonio Express-News reports the men allegedly made public comments critical of the family of ex-student Corwyn Schultz after a February settlement. The family had sued but failed to stop prayers at last June’s graduation ceremony.

The paper reports that Riley “liked” a comment on Facebook that said, “There should should be a disclaimer after a prayer that says: ‘No atheists or anti-religious-activists were harmed in the recitation of this prayer.’”

“The court does not expect the parties to hold hands and sing ‘Kumbaya’ around a campfire beside the Medina River,” Biery wrote in his ruling, according to the Express-News. “Nor does the court expect the respondents to engage in a public spectacle of self-flaggellation for communicating words better left unsaid. 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’) and a portion of ‘Essay on Criticism’ (‘to err is human; to forgive, divine’).”

The district agreed school employees would not pray with students or elicit prayer in class, plus not disparage the Schultz family.

The district declined comment about Monday’s order, which requires the Schultz family to accept the apologies.

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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