FFRF makes Macon County Schools think twice about commencement speakers (Aug. 4, 2011)

A North Carolina school district now has a policy prohibiting religious speech at commencement after the Freedom From Religion Foundation expressed serious concerns about a graduation speaker. Graduating seniors from Nantahala School in Nantahala, N.C. (part of Macon County Schools), invited Rev. Daniel “Cowboy” Stewart, a controversial, outspoken religious leader. The pastor’s sermon included placing a volunteer from the audience in ropes and putting a bag over their head.Stewart was quoted in The Andrews Journal as saying, “The devil is out to destroy you, to tie you up.”

Rebecca Markert, FFRF senior staff attorney, wrote a letter on June 29, 2011 to Dan Brigman, Superintendent of Macon County Schools, that Stewart “obviously abused his speaking opportunity to proselytize a captive audience.” Brigman replied to FFRF on August 4, saying while Stewart was not invited for the purpose of delivering a sermon, they will “ensure that future graduation speakers refrain from religious speech.”

Freedom From Religion Foundation