When students in the Class of 2012 take part in Sunday’s graduation ceremony at Lakeview High School in Columbus, Neb., they also will be able to take part in student-led prayer.
Despite a stern letter from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) saying such activity violates students’ First Amendment rights, the Nebraska school will maintain its tradition of prayer.
“If it is student-led, student-initiated, parent-led or parent-initiated, they are free to do so,” said Dave Bydalek, executive director of Family First, a policy council affiliated with CitizenLink. “Apparently, the ACLU just doesn’t want to accept that fact.”
The 685-student school district previously made graduation a private, voluntary event. A parents’ committee pays the school district $150 to use the gymnasium for the day. The district does not endorse any messages delivered at the event.
None of that appeased the ACLU, which asked the district to remove all religious activity from the ceremony. The group said such activities should be limited to the voluntary baccalaureate event held the night before graduation.
“The sad thing is that the ACLU wants to be the prayer police in our culture,” said Jeremy Tedesco, legal counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, which is not involved in the case. “They have an agenda to find every vestige of prayer and religious expression in the public square and write a letter to make it stop.”
Bydalek encouraged other schools to ignore such threats from the ACLU.
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