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Indiana high school drops graduation prayer

By The Associated Press
05.26.04

AVON, Ind. — Officials have dropped plans for a prayer at Avon High School’s graduation under the threat of a lawsuit.

District Superintendent Richard Helton said the invocation would not be included in the May 28 commencement ceremony at the school, which is about 10 miles west of Indianapolis, and that it would be removed from the printed program.

Student Laura McGinley sought legal assistance from the Indiana Civil Liberties Union to stop the invocation.

“I think it is inappropriate and unnecessary,” said McGinley, 18. “It’s really all about diversity. I was raised in a family to respect all beliefs, and the best way to do that is not to force it on other people.”

ICLU executive director Fran Quigley said the organization contacted officials and told them that the district could face a lawsuit over the issue of prayer at graduation.

Helton said the district cannot stop students or school officials from praying at graduation. Quigley said there would be no problem as long as there is no school-led prayer.

“If it is student-initiated ... there is no litigation,” Quigley said.

Some students said they wanted the invocation.

Kari Kieper, who is senior class president and co-editor of the student newspaper, said the invocation was included in the program as part of graduation, but was not sponsored by the school.

“It was going to be student-led and student-initiated,” Kieper said.

Megan Gainey, 16, said most seniors want the prayer.

“It should not be taken out because a few people oppose it,” she said.


Related

ACLU drops challenge to Nevada policy on graduation prayer

Attorney says his group has right to revive lawsuit if Clark County School District allows prayer at future ceremonies. 07.01.03

8th Circuit upholds dismissal of graduation-prayer lawsuit
ACLU loses bid to reinstate case involving Nebraska school board member who led students in Lord's Prayer. 08.21.03

Federal judge blocks prayer at Ky. graduation ceremony
ACLU attorney says student 'did not feel that he should have to sit through government-sponsored prayer just to receive his diploma.' 05.19.06

Graduation prayer a tricky issue, but consider this approach
By Charles C. Haynes Best place for prayers, sermons on graduation weekend is at privately sponsored, voluntarily attended baccalaureate service held after school hours. 05.25.03

Prayer protest at graduation: Fighting over God and country
By Charles C. Haynes Kentucky students imposed Christian prayer on public ceremony — even though there are legal, fair ways to acknowledge God at graduation. 05.28.06

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