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ICC Note: In 2013, the American Humanist Association (AHA) issued a letter of complaint to South Carolina’s Greenville School District after an elementary school hosted its graduation ceremony at a local university’s chapel and held prayer during the ceremony. The AHA eventually filed a lawsuit, and a federal judge recently sided with the group, calling prayer at public graduations “cultural residue” left behind from historical traditions. The judge requested that the two parties resolve the matter between themselves within the next 60 days, after which it will be reviewed by the court if left unresolved.

By Heather Clark

12/28/2017 United States (Christian News Network) – A federal judge in South Carolina says that a school district’s continuing practice of including invocations and religious speech at public school graduations is a “cultural residue” left over from historical practices, and that its allowances are wrongly “continuing to color and confuse the application” of its recently revised policies intended to establish neutrality toward religion.

“As the court remarked in its prior order, ‘because of the historical inclusion of prayer and religious speech at graduations, in this school district and State, it is conceivable that the cultural residue of prior practices might continue to color and confuse the application of, even now, constitutionally neutral practices,’” wrote U.S. District Judge Bruce Howe Hendricks, appointed to the bench by then-President Barack Obama, on Dec. 12.

“Based on the evidence submitted by AHA, it appears that the historical practices of the school district are, in fact, continuing to color and confuse the application of what appears to be a constitutionally neutral prayer policy, but what, in practice, may not be,” she wrote.

As previously reported, the parents of a fifth grader contacted the American Humanist Association (AHA) in 2013 to complain that Mountain View Elementary School had held its graduation ceremony at the chapel on the campus of North Greenville University, a Christian institution in Traveler’s Rest. They also cited that prayers had been presented at the event by two students.

The prayers, according to reports, had been written by the children and were reviewed by school officials before being presented.

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