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EAST LIVERPOOL, Ohio (ChurchMilitant.com) - Graduates of an Ohio high school are receiving praise for defying atheists and school officials by reciting the "Our Father."
The high school, located in East Liverpool, Ohio, has a 70-year tradition of singing the Lord's Prayer as part of their commencement exercises. But this year, the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation, a group of atheists that advocate for separation of Church and State, demanded the school stop this custom.
School officials, fearing a lawsuit, caved to their demand. The song was removed from the choir's program for last Sunday's graduation ceremony. Following his speech, however, the valedictorian, Jonathan Montgomery, motioned for all graduates to stand and then proceeded to lead them in reciting the prayer. At the conclusion of the prayer, the crowd erupted in a standing ovation.
Cami Post, vice president of the graduating class, remarked that her classmates were upset at the school's decision to cut out the prayer. "I know a lot of my student body was uncomfortable with it, just because it is tradition to have prayer at our school," she said.
But the school, located in a town with a total population of 13,000, claimed it didn't have extra funds needed to fight a potential lawsuit, so it acceded to the demand by the Freedom From Religion Foundation to stop the prayer.
School board president Larry Walton said it came down to economics. "We said, 'Okay, we just won't do it anymore.' It was a decision made because we don't have a lot of money and we'd rather hire teachers than pay lawyers."
The Freedom From Religion Foundation has not announced if they will seek to press charges.