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Indiana School District Bans Christian Prayer at Graduation Ceremonies After Complaint by Atheist Group

The Roosevelt STEAM Academy, located in Elkhart, Indiana.
(PHOTO: FACEBOOK/ROOSEVELT STEAM ACADEMY)

An Indiana school district has agreed to stop allowing prayers at graduation ceremonies in response to a complaint leveled by a Wisconsin-based atheist group.

Elkhart Community Schools received letters of complaint last month from the Freedom From Religion Foundation regarding the practice of prayers at the Roosevelt STEAM Academy graduation ceremonies. FFRF frequently threatens to file lawsuits against schools that allow Christian prayers at student events.

In a response sent late last month, Elkhart Schools District Counsel Chief of Staff W. Douglas Thorne confirmed that the prayer practice would be stopped.

“The Elkhart Community Schools understand our obligation to maintain a status of neutrality on matters related to religious belief, and to avoid actions which might be construed as endorsement of any particular religious beliefs,” wrote Thorne.

“Our obligation to maintain a status of religious neutrality is communicated to our staff at all levels on a regular basis and I am … reminding our building principal on the importance of maintaining this status at all school functions.”

In a statement released Thursday, FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor said she and her organization “trust that Elkhart school officials will keep the promise they’ve made to us.”

“School districts have an obligation to ensure that students — especially elementary-school-age kids — do not have a particular religion imposed on them,” added Gaylor.

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SOURCE: The Christian Post, Michael Gryboski