The trustees of the Grangeville-area school district have dug in their heels and elected to defy a possible legal threat over school prayers and Bibles distributed to students.
Acknowledging that "legally we can't get away with it forever," the school board of District 241 decided Monday it will allow continued prayer and the distribution of Gideon Bibles "until a court orders us not to," said Trent Woods, board chairman.District 241 includes schools at Riggins, White Bird, Grangeville, Elk City, Kooskia and Powell.
The American Civil Liberties Union has threatened suit against the Madison School District at Rexburg for allowing prayer in its high school graduations and conducting those commencements at the LDS Church-owned Ricks College.
The ACLU and some parents also settled with the Rockland School District over similar church and state issues.
Woods said the board believes "the vast majority of constituents" support continuing the religious practices.
Two patrons strongly urged the board not to cave in to legal threats.
"If you eliminate God . . . what will you use to replace him with? I urge you to keep God in this small way in our schools," said Robert Lowry, pastor of the Valley Bible Church at Kooskia.
Characterizing the ACLU as "a big black cloud hanging over our head," trustee James Babb said he was willing to defy their attacks.
"Push me and I'll push back," Babb said.
Other board members were more cautious. Trustee Barney Foster of Riggins warned "we're just sticking our neck out," and said continuing the religious practices will make the district a target for lawsuits.