Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Praying Students Ignore Lawyers & Atheists at Graduation

Seniors at Louisiana's Bastrop High School went on with prayer during their graduation ceremony May 20, despite threats of a possible lawsuit, plans to cancel the prayer, and contrary advice from a school attorney.

UPDATE 5/27/11: Atheists furious with student's exercise of First Amendment rights -- blames school

-- From "Disagreement arises over prayer at high school commencement in Bastrop" by The Associated Press 5/21/11

A student who objected to prayer being part of Bastrop High School's 2011 graduation ceremonies enlisted the help of the American Civil Liberties Union.

However, another student whose role was to call for a moment of silence during Friday's ceremony led the audience in the Lord's Prayer despite the ACLU objections.

. . . senior Laci Rae Mattice, when it came time for the moment of silence, drew cheers and applause when she said, "I want to ask for the Lord's blessings upon us."

She then led the audience in the Lord's Prayer, "if they wanted to."

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Prayer sparks controversy in Bastrop" by Zack Southwell, Monroe News Star 5/20/11

At Ram Stadium on Friday night, 242 graduates received their diplomas amid slight controversy.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana urged Stacey Pullen, principal of Bastrop High School, to respect the First Amendment and ensure Friday night's graduation did not include a prayer as originally proposed.

Pullen said Mattice was instructed not to mention anything about religion and only observe the moment of silence. She said she was unsure if the ACLU or [openly atheist graduate Damon] Fowler would seek legal action against the school.

At the Thursday night rehearsal for the graduation, another senior, Sarah Barlow, said a prayer with reference to Jesus Christ. The prayer was listed in the graduation program, which had to be reprinted at taxpayer expense.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Seniors Hold Prayer Despite Atheist's Threats" by Christian Broadcasting Network 5/24/11

At the recommendation of an attorney, school administrators reprinted all the graduation announcements to rid any mention of prayer in the program. Instead, a "Moment of Silence" was listed.

"The Constitution does not require that graduation be free of religious people or speech. Students have the right to express secular and religious viewpoints at graduation," said Mathew D. Staver, founder and chairman of the Liberty Counsel.

"To censor only the religious viewpoints is intolerant and unconstitutional," he continued. "Students should not be bullied by the ACLU to give up their constitutional rights."

In an online forum, Damon's brother Jerrett said he is in contact with a lawyer at the Freedom From Religion Foundation about the case. The group has offered Damon a $1,000 "student activist" award for his courage to speak out.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.