FFRF complaint helps stop California graduation prayer

The Freedom From Religion Foundation joined other secular groups in successfully stopping illegal prayer at a scheduled graduation at Exeter Union High School in California. A moment of silence replaced prayer at the June 4 commencement. High school district trustees voted 3-0 on June 1 to eliminate student-led prayer. After FFRF was contacted by an Exeter Union senior who objected to a religious commencement, Rebecca Markert, staff attorney, wrote Superintendent Renee Whitson on May 27 to remind her that “the Supreme Court has continually struck down prayers at school-sponsored events, including public school graduations. Even if student-initiated, school officials may not invite a student, teacher, faculty member, or clergy to give any type of prayer, invocation, or benediction at a public high school graduation.” Trustees had voted earlier to cancel the prayer but then decided to ask the 221 seniors to illegally “vote” on the constitutional matter. Why the school decided to let students vote is puzzling, Markert said. “The Supreme Court has settled this matter — high school graduations must be secular to protect the freedom of conscience of all students.” The superintendent reported that seniors voted but the votes were never counted and were destroyed.

Freedom From Religion Foundation