FFRF halts graduation prayers at Alabama school (Aug. 21, 2012)

A graduating senior contacted FFRF to report that East Limestone High School in Athens, Ala., had scheduled an official graduation invocation and benediction, in which te student leading the prayer asked everyone to bow their heads and pray. The invocation and benediction were listed in the graduation schedule.

The student complainant, who identified herself as an atheist, noted she was offended at being told to pray at her graduating ceremony: “I just felt uncomfortable, and it seemed like our school was publicly supporting the faith of the majority in my school.” FFRF Staff Attorney Andrew Seidel pointed out in his June 4, 2012 letter that Supreme Court precedent has explicitly “ruled prayers at public school graduations an impermissible establishment of religion.” Seidel also pointed out that these prayers alienate the one in four nonbelieving Americans under the age of 29.

After writing two more follow-up letters to the Limestone County Board of Education, FFRF was told by the superintendent on Aug. 21 that the schools “have been informed of the law and have taken appropriate steps to ensure that religious prayers will not be scheduled or endorsed as a part of the graduation ceremonies or any other school sponsored events.”

Freedom From Religion Foundation