About a year ago, Eric Workman was graduating from Indiana’s Greenwood High School. The school had allowed students to vote on whether or not to pray at graduation.
Eric contacted the Freedom From Religion Foundation and they put a stop to that illegal practice.
As is always the case, student speakers were allowed to insert prayers into their own speeches. The administrators even let everybody know (*cough cough*) they wouldn’t screen the speeches beforehand…
I’m getting a sense of déjà vu hearing about Laurens District High School in South Carolina…
They were also allowing students to vote on graduation prayers. But after hearing from FFRF, they won’t be doing that anymore.
For that, we can thank graduating senior (and my new personal hero) Harrison Hopkins:
“It [graduation prayer] gives the feeling to us that aren’t of that certain religion, that we’re excluded, like we’re not as important as the other.”
As for students who invoke god in their personal speeches, Harrison is fine with that:
“That would be ok ’cause that is not supported by the school. That is the student doing it of their own accord and that is well within their First Amendment rights.”
Superintendent Billy Strickland issued this statement after Harrison intervened:
“Our legal counsel has advised us that we should discontinue the practice of voting on whether to have an invocation delivered at the graduation ceremony so we do not create a basis for a legal challenge. We will have student speakers at the graduation ceremony, and we issue the following disclaimer: The views expressed during student-led messages are solely those of the speaker and do not reflect the approval or disapproval of Laurens School District 55 or the school administration, and they are neither sponsored nor endorsed by Laurens School District 55, its agents, or employees.”
(Meanwhile, how is the other student in the news clip, Austin Paysinger, graduating? How did he pass a government class when he thinks the majority can do whatever the fuck it wants, regardless of how illegal it is?)
Since this issue has been brought up, Harrison has been called a hypocrite, an asshole, and even the antichrist (hehe).
It’s not easy to do these things. What Harrison and I are facing is difficult, but it shouldn’t stop the movement which has begun. Yes, it’s degrading to go to school everyday where you are hated by nearly everyone. It’s painful to lose friends and know that the smiles some of your favorite teachers give you are forced. It’s annoying to walk down the hall and hear people say things under their breath about you. However, it is a small price to pay in the scheme of things. We should all value our rights and freedom much more than what petty haters have to say.
They’re only high schoolers. I’m amazed. I get angry/upset reading most of the news stories you all send me about religion. But stories like this one leave me incredibly optimistic about our future.