Massachusetts School District Bans Prayer at Events After Atheist Group Complains

A school district in Massachusetts will no longer allow prayer at its school-sponsored events in order to appease one of the nation’s leading atheist groups.

Last month, Canton Public Schools Superintendent Jennifer Fischer-Mueller informed the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation that “steps have been taken to ensure that there will be no prayers or religious rituals” included as part of any school ceremony or school-sponsored event, including graduation ceremonies.

Fischer-Mueller’s letter came after FFRF, which advocates for a strict separation of church and state and regularly pressures school districts and local government entities across the nation to drop all types of religious activities and cooperation, sent a demand letter to her in late June.

The letter complained about the fact that the Rev. John Tamilio III of the Congregational Church of Canton was invited to give a prayer at the 2018 Canton High School graduation ceremony last spring.

Tamilio was invited by Principal Derek Folan to give the invocation.

In the invocation, Tomilio is alleged to have called upon a “holy, loving, and most gracious God” in asking Him to bless the graduating students. Tomilio was also said to have prayed that the students would “serve others in service of You.” The prayer concluded with Tomilio asking the audience twice for an “Amen.”

FFRF legal fellow Colin McNamara argues that Tomilio being asked to give a prayer at the ceremony is a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. He claims, among other things, that the religious invocation alienates students who are not religious.

“A prayer taking place at a ‘regularly scheduled school-sponsored function conducted on school property’ would lead an objective observer to perceive it as state endorsement of religion,” McNamara stated. “It makes no difference how many students or families want prayer at the graduation ceremony.”

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Source: Christian Post