NC Superintendent Tells Principals They Cannot Allow Student-Led Prayers at Graduation

WAYNE COUNTY – The Left’s assault on religious freedom continues. As high school seniors graduate and look forward to the rest of their lives the superintendent of Wayne County Public Schools wants to be sure they aren’t allowed to exercise their First Amendment right during their graduation ceremonies.

An internal email obtained by First in Freedom Daily from superintendent Dr. Michael Dunsmore to Wayne County principals tells them they cannot have student-led prayers at graduation.

From the email sent to principals in May as graduation ceremonies approached:

Dunsmore, Mike <[email protected]> Wed, May 22, 2019 at 5:15 PM To: Principals HS <[email protected]> […]

HS Principals:

Good afternoon. This is a reminder that prayers cannot be conducted, student led or otherwise, at your graduation ceremonies. In accordance with Board of Education Policy 3515 Religion in Schools and AR 3515-R Religion in Schools, the following is required: ……………………….

E. Maintaining School System Neutrality in Religious Matters 1. The school system and school employees acting in their official capacities shall not promote, conduct, sponsor, or endorse any form of religious indoctrination or exercise, including prayer, at school functions. This includes graduation ceremonies. The school system and its employees shall not coerce students or employees to participate in religious activities on or off school grounds. A moment of silence may be observed at school-controlled functions, activities, or events.[…]

The Left has this habit of interpreting the American founding principle of ‘separation of church and state,’ or our God-given right to religious freedom, as somehow meaning that religious observation, especially by Christians, should be banned in public institutions altogether. The problem with that faulty logic is that it completely misses the point of the founding principle barring state sponsored religion and directly violates the First Amendment recognizing individuals’ right to freedom of expression and religion.

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One may find the warning to principals reasonable if, in fact, teachers were forcing Muslim students, for example, to recite the Lord’s Prayer in order to graduate. But that’s not what Dunsmoreis saying at all.

In Dunsmore’s email to principals, he makes it exceedingly clear that the First Amendment rights of students are not to be honored at all:

To be clear, we are asking that no prayers, student-led or otherwise, be conducted at your graduation events. If an invocation has already been planned as part of your upcoming program and a student has been asked to lead it, you have the option to remove this item from the program or have the student instead lead a moment of silence, which can be observed in accordance with Board of Education policy.”

Freedom of religion does not mean freedom from religion. One’s desire to not listen to or witness someone else’s religious expression does not trump the others’ First Amendment right to express their religious faith via prayer.

This point has been made time and time again, but it doesn’t stop the Left from attempting to pervert the premise of religious freedom. Dunsmore cites ‘Board of Education policy’ as justification for banning student-led prayers at graduation, but if such a violation of students’ First Amendment rights is an official policy of the Board of Education, then the state legislature may want to take a look at that.

Actually, if you’ve ever witnessed the North Carolina General Assembly commence a session in the House or Senate, then you’ve probably noticed that they usually start with…a prayer. It’s hard to supersede the legislative body of North Carolina as an example of ‘the State,’ but they nearly always gavel in to a voting session with an invocation. Why? Because freedom of religion does not mean freedom from religion.

As a matter of fact, when the Dunsmore himself was sworn into his official position as superintendent of Wayne County Public Schools (a state employee), he did so by invoking the name of God with his hand placed firmly on a Christian Bible. Is that in accordance with the cited Board of Education manual?

Dr. Michael Dunsmore swearing in as superintendent of Wayne County Public Schools, with his hand on the Bible.

So when Dr. Dunsmore tells principals they cannot allow student-led prayers at graduation, he’s actually coercing them to violate the rights of students who may wish to lead a prayer. Where is the ACLU in coming to the defense of these students whose religious freedom is being suppressed?

(Come to think of it, some Wayne County principals likely find no problem with a state employee like Dunsmore mandating they stamp out any prayers at graduation.)

What to do you think about Dunsmore’s demand that principals snuff out student-led prayers at graduation?

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