Canton Public Schools in Massachusetts will no longer allow prayers or religiously themed occurrences to be included in any school ceremony or school-sponsored events, including graduation ceremonies after Atheist organization files complaint.
Last Spring, Rev. John Tamilio III was invited by Canton High School Principal Derek Folan to give an invocation during the graduation ceremony. During the invocation, it was reported that Tomilio called upon a “holy, loving, and most gracious God” to bless the students.
Later on, the FFRF filed a complaint with the school district, after such, 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.
The FFRF alleges that the Principal’s request to have Rev. Tomilio conduct a prayer at the ceremony is a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. Furthermore, their complaint alleges that 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.”
The FFRF regularly files complaints against schools and school districts across the country, and often times they are successful because a school and or school district would rather change their policies than deal with the extremely costly legal fees of a lawsuit.