Class of 2013 President Jonathan Hardwick received a standing ovation after he prayed for about one minute during Friday’s commencement ceremony at the school. Many audience members echoed his closing of “Amen.”
A video of Hardwick’s prayer quickly hit social media websites such as YouTube and Topix, with most online comments supporting Hardwick’s decision.
Part of the class president’s prayer was the following, “Thank you for helping us get here safely today, Lord, and thank you for the many blessings you have given us.”
In an interview with The Advocate-Messenger earlier this month, Principal Tim Godbey acknowledged that six students — including at least one atheist — had pleaded with him not to allow student-led prayer to be a part of the school’s graduation ceremony. Godbey, a self-professed Christian who says he prays for each of his students daily, said under separation of church and state laws, faculty members have never been able to pray publicly on school grounds or during school-sponsored functions. However, he noted that the U.S. Constitution does not prohibit students from doing so as long as they are not otherwise disruptive.
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