Public school cancels graduation rather than remove prayer from ceremony

An Arkansas public school has canceled its graduation ceremony rather than remove a prayer from the opening address

By Katie McDonough

Published May 9, 2013 6:29PM (EDT)


Arkansas' Riverside Public School District has called off its sixth grade graduation ceremony after a parent asked administrators to remove a Christian prayer from the opening address to the students. The school was contacted by a local parent, supported by the American Civil Liberties Union, over the inclusion of prayer in the public school ceremony; but rather than remove religion from the festivities, they canceled them entirely.

Sixth grade parent Kelly Adams told ABC News affiliate KAIT8 that the request to take prayer out of the opening address upset parents and students, explaining that the school's decision to cancel was justified because "we just want to take a stand for God because we felt like out rights were taken away."

Conceding that not everyone is Christian at the school, Adams added: "I realize they have rights too but you can't take rights away from one group and give it to another."

Kelly, along with other parents, have arranged to hold an alternative ceremony at a nearby church, where they will be free to pray. "We are including everyone, everyone is invited, we want everyone to come and be a part of it," she said of the decision to relocate.

"We're not trying to be pushy or ugly to anybody, we just want them to know there is a God who loves them," she said of the new ceremony.


Katie McDonough

Katie McDonough is Salon's politics writer, focusing on gender, sexuality and reproductive justice. Follow her on Twitter @kmcdonovgh or email her at

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