Earlier this month, the valedictorian at Liberty (S.C.) High School ripped up his prepared graduation speech, which had been approved by school officials, and instead recited the Lord’s Prayer at the public school’s graduation ceremony. According to CNN, Roy Costner IV said he was trying to make a statement that “taking prayer out of schools is the worst thing we could do.”
It has been more than 50 years since the Supreme Court ruled in Engel v. Vitale (1962) that school-sponsored prayer in public schools violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, and more than 20 years since the high court decided in Lee v. Weisman(1992) that public schools may not sponsor or promote prayer at graduation ceremonies. But as the incident in South Carolina illustrates, the controversy over prayer in school has not diminished.
Pew Research Center poll found that 65% of Americans believe liberals have gone too far trying to keep religion out of schools and government. A smaller, but significant share (48%) think conservative Christians have gone too far to try to impose religious values on the country.