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Students stand and sing "The Lord's Prayer" during graduation ceremony
February 16, 2017
A group of Ohio graduating seniors upheld school tradition by reciting the Lord’s Prayer even though it had been banned by school officials. Seniors at East Liverpool High School had been singing a version of the Lord’s Prayer during their graduation ceremony for 70 years, reports Fox News.
This year, school officials axed the song from the graduation program because they were afraid of being sued by the Freedom from Religion Foundation because the organization said the song promoted religion and violated the U.S. Constitution. “It was a decision made because we don’t have a lot of money and we’d rather hire teachers than pay lawyers,” school board president Larry Walton told a local NBC News affiliate according to the Washington Times.
The senior class was not happy with the breaking of the longstanding tradition, so they took matters into their own hands. In defiance of the school board and the Freedom from Religion Foundation, the students stood up and recited the famous prayer, which begins, “Our Father who art in heaven,” just after their class valedictorian, Jonathan Montgomery, welcomed the crowd to the graduation, according to Fox News.
“It was totally spontaneous, apparently something the kids wanted to do. I had no knowledge of it. The crowd seemed to support it,” East Liverpool Superintendent Melissa Watson said told The Intelligencer according to the Washington Times.
Robert Hill, the father of Bobby Hill, one of the senior class members, said he was proud of the students for taking a stand.
“I’ve always taught my two boys to stand up for what you believe is right,” Mr. Hill said. “The same lesson my parents taught me. It doesn’t matter if it’s over religion or something else – take a stand.”
In light of what happened, the Washington Times reported that school officials are considering a nondenominational baccalaureate graduation next year for students.