Student Says He’s Ostracized for Objecting to Graduation Prayer

So, a kid at a Louisiana high school sends an email to the school superintendent, pointing out that not everyone is a Christian in his school, or even a believer in God. The kid also says that if the district holds its traditional prayer at the May 20 graduation ceremony, he will be forced to call the American Civil Liberties Union.

The district consults with its solicitor and sure enough, the lawyer tells them that government-led prayer violates the First Amendment.

This story in itself isn’t a big deal. Each spring, incidents of school officials grumbling over the fact that they can’t pray publicly — and with a loud speaker — over the heads of graduating seniors are as common as wild honeysuckle vines.

But what really irritates me is the public statement by a school official that kids who don’t wish to have religious views forced on them by their educators should just sit there and shut up. From the Bastrop Enterprise:

Mitzi Quinn has been on the staff at BHS for almost 25 years, much of that time as a senior advisor. In the past, Quinn said there have been students who were atheist, agnostic and other non-Christian religions who “had no problems” with the prayer.

“They respected the majority of their classmates and didn’t say anything,” Quinn said. “We’ve never had this come up before. Never.”

Throughout her time working with the student, Quinn said they never expressed their personal beliefs or that they had any problems with other students’ Christian faiths.

“And what’s even more sad is this is a student who really hasn’t contributed anything to graduation or to their classmates,” Quinn said.

The student is Damon Fowler and he reports that since he raised his objection, he has been ostracized by his schoolmates. Hardly any wonder if this is the public attitude of the student advisor.

H/T Pharyngula

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Lauri Lebo is the author of The Devil in Dover: Dogma v. Darwin in Small-Town America, a book about the 2005 First Amendment trial of Kitzmiller v. Dover in which intelligent design was ruled creationism.