A federal district court has prohibited a South Carolina school district from including official student-led prayer and religious music in future graduations following a lawsuit from an atheist group.
The decision from U.S. District Judge Bruce Howe Hendricks on Thursday prevents Greenville County Schools from knowingly allowing prayer from a student during a graduation. It also prohibits the school system from listing a prayer in the printed graduation program.
Previously, the school system screened student’s printed remarks and reviewed student-submitted prayers. During graduations, some schools also asked the audience to stand or bow, Greenville News reported.
“The district shall not include a prayer – whether referred to as a prayer, blessing, invocation, benediction, inspirational reading, or otherwise – as part of the official program for a graduation ceremony,” Hendricks, who was nominated by President Obama, wrote, according to the American Humanist. “The district also shall not include an obviously religious piece of music as part of the official program for a graduation ceremony.
“The district and/or school officials shall not encourage, promote, advance, endorse, or participate in causing prayers during any graduation ceremony,” Hendricks added.
If school officials “review, revise, or edit a student’s remarks in any way prior to the graduation ceremony,” then they “shall ensure that the student’s remarks do not include prayer,” Hendricks ruled.
Hendricks left the door open for student-led prayer, as long as the school has no role.
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Source: Christian Headlines