Local News

Removing prayer from Franklin graduation sparks controversy

Posted June 6, 2012 5:45 p.m. EDT
Updated June 8, 2012 10:30 p.m. EDT

— Parents of graduating students in Franklin County are planning a vigil at 7 p.m. Friday at the Franklin County Courthouse in protest of the local school system's decision to remove prayer from school-led activities.

The unanimous vote by Franklin County school board members was the result of a parent who complained to the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina.

"The law was very clear on this point, that the government could not be sponsoring prayers," ACLU of North Carolina legal director Chris Brook said.

Franklin County Schools Superintendent Eddie Ingram said they could not knowingly violate the law by allowing prayer.

"We don't like all the laws. No one does, but we are compelled to uphold the law," he said.

Since learning of the ban, many parents have raised concerns.

"I do have Christian values, and I would like for them to have prayer," said parent Mel Ferrell, whose daughter, Amber, is graduating Saturday.

“I was stunned, almost sick to my stomach," parent Donna Allgood said.

The law does allow certain school groups, such as the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, to incorporate prayer into events.

For graduation, however, Brook said, it isn't allowed. 

"We need to make sure that everyone can feel that they can participate in such an important event," he said.

For many parents, they just want to make sure the traditions they are used to will continue.

"It gives everyone that hope of the future," Allgood said.