The Christian Right group, Liberty Counsel, points out that “the key to graduation prayer is that the school should remain neutral — neither commanding nor prohibiting voluntary prayer or religious viewpoints.”
And so they’re letting Christians everyone know the legal loopholes (PDF) so that students can proselytize during graduation ceremonies without getting into legal trouble:
If a school does not place “prayer” on the agenda and does not select a clergy for the sole purpose of delivering a prayer, it avoids two ofthe Supreme Court’s major concerns. School officials can use neutral criteria for selecting the participants. A neutral criteria is one that does not select a speaker for the sole purpose of delivering a religious message.
An individual selected using neutral criteria could then participate in the public graduation ceremony and voluntarily offer a prayer or make religious comments. In this way, the school does not intentionally select a religious person for the purpose of prayer.
The purpose of Liberty Counsel’s annual “Friend or Foe” Graduation Prayer Campaign is to protect religious viewpoints at graduation. Liberty Counsel will be the friend of schools that recognize the free speech rights of students and the foe of those that violate their constitutional rights.
I would love for a high school senior somewhere to test this…
Suppose you’re an atheist and the class valedictorian. You get up on stage and say something like, “God never helped me study for all those exams. God never helped me get a high SAT score. God never relieved my stress during those all-nighters. That was all me. I’m the one who worked hard. God doesn’t exist, after all.” (That would probably be a pretty dickish thing to say, but work with me here….)
Or what if a Muslim student was voted by her classmates to speak at graduation? What if she thanked Allah for getting her through high school and then invited everyone to pray with her?
Would Liberty Counsel support their free speech rights? Would those schools be considered “friends” or “foes”?
We constantly hear about how groups like the ACLU defend the free speech rights of Christians.
I have never once heard a story about Liberty Counsel helping out non-Christians for the same reasons.