MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - A Montgomery-based foundation has come to the defense of Opp City Schools after a group asked the schools to keep prayer out of graduation.
The Foundation for Moral Law is offering to help the Opp schools ensure their commencement and baccalaureate services can survive a constitutional challenge. On June 5, The Freedom From Religion Foundation sent a letter to Opp City Schools calling on the system to no longer allow praying at graduation ceremonies.
The request stems from Opp High School's baccalaureate service in the school's auditorium on May 21. The foundation says it's illegal for schools to endorse or schedule a service of this kind.
On Monday, Foundation for Moral Law Senior Counsel John Eidsmoe sent a letter to Opp school's superintendent Michael Smithart, noting that in 1991 Judge Myron Thompson of the Middle District of Alabama approved holding a baccalaureate service in the Verbena High School auditorium.
"None of the Verbena churches were large enough to hold the anticipated crowd, so they requested permission to use the high school auditorium," wrote Eidsmoe. "When permission was denied, they sued in federal court. Judge Thompson, who tends to be a liberal judge, ruled that the baccalaureate service could be held in the school auditorium provided notice was given that the Chilton County Public Schools in no way sponsored the baccalaureate service."
Eidsmoe also argued that, with proper disclaimers, graduation prayers may be constitutional.
See the full letter from Eidsmoe below: