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Humanist group protests Mountain View's 5th grade graduation at NGU

Published on Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The American Humanist Association has sent a cease-and-desist letter to a South Carolina public elementary school that held its recent graduation ceremony in a chapel at North Greenville University.

The letter explained that this ceremony, which also included two prayers, is a violation of the separation of church and state.

After receiving a complaint from the parents of one of the school’s graduating 5th grade students, the American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center Monday sent a letter to the superintendent and principal of Mountain View Elementary School in Taylors objecting to the unconstitutional nature of the ceremony. The letter warns of a possible lawsuit if the school continues to hold events of a sectarian nature or in a sectarian venue.

The graduation was held on May 30 at North Greenville University. The official schedule of events called for prayers on two separate occasions as part of the ceremony, which took place in a large Christian worship space, adorned with crosses, stained glass and other religious elements. The university’s logo includes the phrase “Christ Makes a Difference.”

“It has been made clear by the federal courts that events such as these violate the constitutional principle of separation of church and state,” said Monica Miller, an attorney and legal consultant with the Appignani Humanist Legal Center. “When a public school sponsors an event, it is the administration’s responsibility to ensure separation of church and state is maintained.”

The letter sent to Superintendent W. Burke Royster and Principal Jennifer Gibson can be found here.

The family who brought the complaint has decided for the time being to remain anonymous.

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