Jonathan Hardwick, the class president of Lincoln County High School, said a Christian prayer at the public school's recent graduation ceremony, despite opposition from non-Christian students (video below).
“Thank you for helping us get here safely today, Lord, and thank you for the many blessings you have given us because we are a very talented class,” Hardwick prayed in part on Friday.
After he concluded with “in Jesus name, Amen,” Hardwick received a standing ovation for his prayer and several people in the audience said "Amen."
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According to The Advocate-Messenger, principal Tim Godbey acknowledged that six students had asked that the student-led prayer not be a part of the graduation ceremony.
“I feel like you shouldn’t force your religion upon anybody. And a lot of people are saying if there are prayers at graduation, you don’t have to participate, you can sit there and not listen, close your ears. Well, one, it’s my graduation. I shouldn’t have to close my ears,” student Bradley Chester told WKYT.com earlier this month.
"It's a way of celebrating an important event in our life with a prayer to something that has helped us and guided us through a major part of our life," Hardwick said at the time. "If I want to have a prayer the school can't stop me, but if the school can't say 'come up here and pray' that's the school supporting prayer, but if I want to pray they can't stop me."
Lincoln County High School allows prayer via a student vote.
In 1992, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that public school officials could not say prayers at graduation ceremonies, but student-led religious activity in schools is considered free speech.