High school graduates were told not to recite the Lord’s Prayer, a school tradition, but they did it anyway.
East Liverpool High School is a public high school in East Liverpool, Ohio. It is the only high school in the East Liverpool City School District. The school is not a rich school. That is the reason why the school administration, without any fight, agreed to remove East Liverpool's 70-year tradition of reciting or singing the Lord’s Prayer during their graduation ceremonies when the Wisconsin-based Freedom from Religion Foundation demanded them to do so.
According to Larry Walton, the school board president, the administration unanimously took the decision not to go for any legal battles because the school does not have a lot of money. Also, they would rather hire teachers, than pay lawyers. Walton even apologized to some of the parents who were not happy with the administration's decision, stating that it is a war that they cannot win.
The Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) is a non-profit organization based in Madison in Wisconsin. It consists of members from all 50 states. FFRF is the largest organization advocating for non-theists in the nation. The organization is an avid promoter of the separation of church and state.
The high school graduates of 2016, however, were not willing to let go of their school tradition. During the graduation ceremony that took place last weekend, Jonathan Montgomery, who was the class valedictorian took the stage and led the whole class in reciting the Lord’s Prayer. This defiant act against the FFRF, as well as the school (in a way), instead of any admonition, earned them a rousing round of applause from the audience.
According to Cami Post, class of 2016 vice president, a lot of her students were uncomfortable with a graduation ceremony void of the Lord's Prayer. For everybody at East Liverpool, the school traditions are a big thing. The Lord's Prayer is an important part of the graduation ceremony. For most of them, a graduation ceremony without the Lord's Prayer is unthinkable.
High schools graduates’ defiant response to atheists demand for the Lord’s Prayer to be stripped from commencement https://t.co/1sbEy7z9JE
— Kelly Campagna (@warriorwoman91) May 24, 2016
Pastor Rodney Ohler, Salineville Assembly of God, said that the idea of a couple of people standing up against praying in school is a sad thing. Ohler and his church members are trying their best to keep the prayer in school.
It has also been the view of some of the students and administrators, before the graduation ceremony, that focusing on the prayer issue would just take away the focus from student accomplishments.
According to Walton, he is currently looking into conducting a non-denominational baccalaureate service next year.