Max Nielson Sues Over High School Graduation Prayer | Freedom of Religion Foundation

Former student Max Nielson

Every December, media headlines are dominated by the annual War on Christmas. As time progresses, it seems the nation is also gripped each spring and summer by another increasingly-fervent battle: the War on Prayer.

This phenomenon generally involves graduation prayer dramas and it tends to erupt during the months of May and June. Earlier today, The Blaze told you about the atheist valedictorian in Texas who successfully petitioned to remove prayer from his ceremony. Now, there’s another story coming out of South Carolina in which a former student is suing over a religious message that was uttered at his commencement.

Max Neilson, an 18-year-old student at Irmo High School, is suing after a fellow classmate read a prayer during his recent graduation ceremony. In a federal complaint that was filed, Neilson claims he suffered, ”unwanted exposure to a school-sanctioned invocation/benediction/prayer/religious message/blessing.” The former student filed the lawsuit along with the infamous Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), a well-known atheist activist group.

 

You can read the complaint letters here and here.

The lawsuit contends that Neilson was subjected to a violation of his rights under the First Amendment and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, according to the Irmo Patch. Interestingly, the Lexington-Richland School District Five, the defendant in the lawsuit, allows students to vote each year on the inclusion of prayer. Based on this premise, Neilson’s classmates opted to include it in the 2012 ceremony.

While the non-believing student allegedly attempted to prevent the prayer prior to graduation, meetings with the principal and superintendent, and a letter to the school board failed to resonate.

“I didn’t remove my cap. I looked toward the superintendent and let the time pass. I was obviously not a part of that part of the graduation ceremony,” Nielson told WISTV. “The district didn’t feel like it needed to find time for me and my non-religious or non-Christian friends.”

(H/T: Huffington Post)