District Court sets limits on student-led prayer in SC
by WLOS staff
GREENVILLE, S.C. (WLOS) — A South Carolina District Court has set limits on student-led prayer in the state.
According to a Greenville County Schools representative, on Thursday, the court issued a permanent injunction requiring the school district to continue to avoid “religious entanglement,” continuing practices such as ensuring student speakers are selected on neutral criteria, like class rank or leadership roles.
The ruling addressed an almost six-year old case between Greenville County Schools and The American Humanist Association (AHA) involving student-led prayer.
The representative also said the ruling gave further direction and guidance related to the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause, in selecting music and the role of employees in reviewing student comments prior to events like graduation ceremonies.
“We are pleased that the Court has upheld the fundamental issue of the case and supported our position that students selected to speak at graduations based upon religiously neutral criteria, have the right to share their personal stories, even if those include a religious message,” the Greenville County Schools representative said in an official statement.
“We are also pleased that the Court refused to grant AHA’s request to prevent all remotely religious messaging or prayer at School District events. As a district, we have made every effort to consistently comply with the Constitution and protect the rights of all students.”
The ruling also directs the district to include a disclaimer in graduation programs that the views and opinions of students are their own and not that of the district.
“As a district, we have made every effort to consistently comply with the Constitution and protect the rights of all students,” the statement continued. “We will continue to review the court order to evaluate whether clarification of this decision or a potential appeal may be warranted.”