ICC Note: As previously reported, following complaints from the Freedom from Religion Foundation, a high school in Ohio’s East Liverpool School District removed their tradition of singing the Lord’s Prayer during the graduation ceremony. Come graduation day, the school’s valedictorian led his fellow graduates in the Lord’s Prayer during the ceremony as a way of upholding the practice. Although some district officials expressed that they did not want to initially remove the prayer from the graduation program, they did so in order to avoid a possible lawsuit.
By Heather Clark
05/24/2016 United States (Christian News Network) – The valedictorian of a high school in Ohio led his class in a recitation of the Lord’s Prayer during their graduation ceremony this past weekend after a musical version of the prayer that has traditionally been a part of the commencement for years was removed due to an atheist complaint.
As previously reported, a parent of a student at East Liverpool High School contacted the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) following last year’s commencement to express their objection to the song.
The Lord’s Prayer has been a part of the graduation ceremony for the past ten years, but because FFRF contacted the East Liverpool School District to complain, officials decided to drop the song from the program to avoid a potential legal battle.
“The district should keep its musical program secular to respect the diversity of beliefs held by its students and families and to be inclusive of all students,” the correspondence read. “It makes no difference how many students want religious songs or wouldn’t be offended by them at their graduation ceremony. A graduation should be a celebration for all students, not an exercise in excluding non-religious students with a worship song.”
While there was never any official vote or public discussion about the matter until recently, Superintendent Melissa Watson opined to the board in email correspondence that the prayer would have to go despite the personal feelings of district officials.
“I am a Christian and it hurts me that there is even a question about it, but as superintendent, I have to put that aside. As you said, we can’t make it legal. I’m just sorry this is happening,” she wrote.