Graduation Prayer Challenges to Meet With Litigation

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students around the country are celebrating their graduation,
Liberty Counsel is working to protect them by launching its
annual “Friend or Foe” Graduation Prayer Campaign.

With the campaign, Liberty Counsel seeks
to educate and, if necessary, litigate to ensure that prayer and
religious viewpoints are not suppressed during graduation ceremonies.

“Students do not lose their constitutional
right to free speech when they step to the podium at graduation,” says Mathew Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel and Dean of Liberty University
School of Law. “To
allow a variety of viewpoints except religious viewpoints at graduation
is neither American nor is it consistent with the Constitution. While
schools should not force people to pray, neither should they force them
not to pray.”

Counsel will be a friend of schools that recognize the free speech
rights of students and a foe to those that violate students’
constitutional rights. Liberty Counsel has published a free legal memo on graduation prayer which is available online.
Students are encouraged to wear Liberty Counsel’s red “I WILL PRAY”
wristbands as a reminder to pray. Students have the right to wear
religious jewelry and to pray during noninstructional times during the

In a precedent-setting case against the ACLU, Adler v. Duval County School Board,
Liberty Counsel won the right of students to pray or give religious
messages at graduation. The case established the legal principle that
public schools are free to adopt a policy that permits students or other
speakers to present secular or religious messages, including prayer, at
commencement ceremonies.

2006 Liberty Counsel represented Megan Chapman, a graduating senior
and class chaplain in Russell Springs, Ky., who had a court order
forbidding her from praying during graduation. The order was obtained by
the ACLU. The entire senior class reacted to the controversy by
standing and reciting the Lord’s Prayer, after which Megan stepped to
the podium and shared what God meant in her life. After hearing about
the situation, Dr. Jerry Falwell gave both Megan and her twin sister,
Mandy, full scholarships to Liberty University. Megan has just completed
her first year at Liberty University School of Law.

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