FFRF halts graduation prayer—for kindergartners (June 6, 2011)

In May 2011, FFRF was alerted by a Pulaski, Tenn. resident that “kindergarten graduation” at Pulaski Elementary featured a two-minute prayer by a local Church of Christ minister “in Jesus’ name.” This is the second complaint FFRF has received in a year about violations at Pulaski Elementary. In December, FFRF complained about kindergartners being instructed to sing the religious song “Johnny Appleseed Grace” by their teachers as a prayer.

On May 26, FFRF Staff Attorney Rebecca Markert sent a letter to Tee Jackson, Director of Schools in Giles County, requesting an end to prayer at all graduations in the school district in the future.

Markert said, “The graduating kindergarten children, as young as 5, who have previously been taught prayer by their teachers and are again subjected to religious ritual on their big graduation day cannot possibly be able to discern that the school district does not endorse the religious messages embodied in the graduation prayer.” Markert noted that the principal was present during the prayer.

On June 6, Jackson responded, “We do not expect this circumstance in the future.”

Freedom From Religion Foundation