Atheist group pushes Ala. school to ban baccalaureate ceremonies, prayer at graduations


For decades, the country has been divided on whether or not to allow prayer at public school events.

Now the issue has moved centerstage in Opp, Ala.

Last month, Opp High School included an optional baccalaureate service —a Christianity-based interdenominational celebration that honors a graduating senior class — in its graduation festivities where school principal, Aaron Hightower, led seniors in prayer and delivered a speech referencing God.

In response, the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), which touts itself as the nation’s largest educational atheist organization working to keep religion and government separate, sent a a letter to Opp City Schools asking them to “to cease endorsing religion in its future graduation activities” and to ensure that no prayers are scheduled for future high school graduation ceremonies.

“Opp City Schools has a legal duty to remain neutral toward religion. It makes no difference how many students want religious speeches or wouldn’t be offended by them at their graduation,” wrote FFRF Staff Attorney Sam Grover. “A graduation should be a celebration for all students, not an exercise in alienating nonreligious students with a Christian message.”

FFRF claims “by scheduling graduation prayers and a baccalaureate, the school district has failed to comply with constitutional law.” FFRF advises that Opp City Schools avoid similar legal breaches of the First Amendment going forward.

“High school graduations should honor the students, not a religion,” added FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor.



  1. I the school follows the advice of FFRF. Prayers are fine at a religious school, but not at a public school where students of every faith perspective, including none, are in attendance.

  2. Admiring the persistence you put into your website and detailed information you provide.
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  3. If there’s a complaint, let it come from the parents or student, not from you. The law isn’t exactly as you say….speak with Jay Sekulow….I’m sure you know who he is. Opp school or any others that choose as a community to do this is their business, not some organization. Have a wonderful blessed day by our God… awesome

  4. This article is lying. The FFRF is not attempting to get the schools to ban anything, they are trying to get the schools to follow the Constitution.

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